The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) is joining a new expert panel which will review building safety in Northern Ireland in response to Dame Hackitt’s Interim and Final Report for Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Dame Hackitt’s reports identified ambiguities about where overall and specific responsibilities lie for the safety of high rise residential properties in Northern Ireland. Separation of responsibilities for building and fire safety across a number of Departments has contributed to a lack of progress in bringing forward changes necessary to ensure citizens here are afforded the same standards of safety as residents in other parts of the UK.
The new panel is being constituted to help improve the NI regime for building safety; ensure a robust future regulatory system and framework; and provide assurance to residents that the buildings they live in are safe.
The panel will be required to:
- confirm whether, and to what extent, the findings of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Interim and Final Report on Building Safety are applicable to NI;
- confirm whether and to what extent subsequent measures and developments in building and fire safety in GB and the Republic of Ireland are applicable here and how these might best be delivered;
- review the current arrangements and structures for building standards and regulations here and confirm if these are fit for purpose to deliver the applicable recommendations;
- if the current arrangements/structures are not fit for purpose, provide recommendations to identify the most appropriate structures and delivery mechanisms to implement the recommendations;
- identify the scope of application: whether recommendations should apply to high-rise residential buildings, or to a wider range of residential and, potentially, other buildings; and
- develop a high level plan to implement the recommendations and any potential necessary structural changes.
The RSUA representative Joan McCoy (White Ink Architects) will join others from:
- Department of Finance – Building Standards
- Department for Communities
- Department for Economy
- Health and Safety Executive
- Department of Health
- Department for Infrastructure (Planning and Highways)
- Belfast City Council (Planning)
- NI Fire and Rescue Service
- Institute of Structural Engineers
- Royal Society of Ulster Architects
- Local Authority Building Control Representatives
- NIHE Director of Assets
- NIHE Fire Safety Manager
- University of Ulster – Fire Safety Expert
The RSUA will report on developments from this new initiative as they arise.