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New Building Safety Charter launched

6 June, 2019

A group of developers, contractors and housing associations, including Salix Homes, have launched a new Building Safety Charter in a call to action to raise the bar for building safety.

The Early Adopters Group, established last summer following Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, signed the Charter during its initial unveiling in London on Thursday, June 6 where it was backed by the Housing Minister, Kit Malthouse MP.  

Minster for Housing, Kit Malthouse MP said: “We established the Early Adopters Group last year as part of sweeping reforms to make sure the building industry prioritises residents’ safety and creates a real culture change as we look to rebuild this sector.

“This group has become integral in helping prepare the industry for our future reforms and this new Charter is an important step in making sure that the safety of residents is considered the highest priority at all stages of the building process.

“I encourage everyone involved in the industry to sign up and back this important pledge.”

The Charter commits those who have signed up to put people’s safety first during the design, construction, refurbishment and occupation of residential buildings.  

The Charter has been developed by industry leaders and comes as the Government today launches its consultation with the sector and residents into proposals for a new building safety regime – Building a Safer Future – following Dame Judith’s review.

In her review, Dame Judith called for a ‘culture change’ within the industry. It is intended that the new Charter will spearhead that change by motivating the sector to prioritise residents’ safety at every stage of a building’s lifespan. 

All organisations involved in the design, construction, management, refurbishment and occupation of homes and buildings can now view and register their interest in the Charter on the newly-launched Building a Safer Future website. They will have the opportunity to sign up when the Charter is launched formally later this year.  

Barratt Developments, Kier, United Living, Wates and Willmott Dixon, along with Housing Associations L&Q, Peabody and Salix Homes, who make up the Early Adopters Group, have been trialling new systems and ways of working in advance of any proposed changes to legislation. 

Some examples of work the group have taken forward include testing how residents and contractors can report building faults in a confidential, no-blame process.

They’ve also been looking at how the creation and management of digitalised building information can be improved; and the development of a new approval process for specific phases of the design, construction and maintenance of high-rise and complex buildings to ensure their safety.

A spokesman for the Early Adopters Group said: For the past year, the Early Adopters Group has been working closely with the Government to identify and test new ways of working, which will spearhead a culture change in the building industry and wider sector to put the safety of residents first. 

“The crucial lesson for our industry is that we have a collective responsibility to safeguard the people living in our buildings and ensure they are safe places to live, both now and in the future. 

“The new Building Safety Charter will help pave the way for real change within our sector, and the Early Adopters Group is very pleased to be the first to sign it, demonstrating our continued commitment to putting safety first.” 

The Building a Safer Future website is now live, where organisations can register their interest in signing up to the charter and find out more about the work of the Early Adopters Group. Find out more at www.buildingasaferfuture.org.uk

Salix Homes is already leading the way on building safety, having now removed the cladding from our eight affected blocks, which were found to have cladding systems that did not meet the Government’s test criteria.

Sue Sutton, executive director of operations at Salix Homes, explained: "All our affected blocks were only partially cladded in aluminium composite material (ACM) and we can confirm that these cladding systems have now been removed from all eight blocks, which are Mulberry, Magnolia and Sycamore Courts, Riverbank and Newbank Towers, Blackfriar Court and Arthur Millwood and Canon Hussey Courts.

“We’ve worked alongside technical experts to develop a permanent solution to replace the panels, and replacement cladding systems that meet the most stringent of safety requirements have now been installed and completed on six of the affected blocks.

“Remediation work is continuing at Arthur Millwood Court and Canon Hussey Court in Islington; however, the defective cladding has been completely stripped from both buildings, fire alarms have been installed and sprinklers are being fitted. This programme of work at the remaining two blocks is expected to be completed next spring.

“We’re also continuing with an extensive programme of enhanced safety measures across all our tower blocks, which will include the installation of state-of-the-art fire alarms at all 18 of our high-rise buildings, by the end of the year.  We are also installing sprinkler systems where we are carrying out any major refurbishment works.

“Two years on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Salix Homes has implemented and embedded a new standard of building safety. We will continue to develop and raise our standards, working closely with the fire service, the Government, safety experts, and of course our residents, to ensure all our buildings continue to be safe places to live, both now and in the future.”