Clause 88 - Keeping information about higher-risk buildings

Building Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 19th October 2021.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The Government are committed to bringing about the biggest improvement in building and fire safety for a generation. The clause creates a power to make regulations to require a golden thread of information for all occupied buildings in scope of the more stringent regime.

The golden thread is the information that allows someone to understand a building and keep it safe, and the information management needed to ensure that the information is accurate, easily understandable and up to date. The clause enables the Secretary of State to make regulations to require the people responsible for those buildings—the accountable person—to put in place and maintain the golden thread. The clause also creates the power to make regulations to set out the information and documents that must be stored in the golden thread, and to set out standards that the golden thread must be held to. The independent review recommended that a golden thread be put in place for all buildings in scope of the regime.

We agree with that recommendation, recognising that it is critical to ensure that buildings are safe. Currently, there is a lack of information about buildings in the new more stringent regime. That lack of information makes it difficult to manage and maintain those buildings safely and to ensure that they are safe for those who live and work in them. We are also aware that, even if there is information, it is often not kept up to date, is not accurate or is not accessible.

The clause will ensure that the information is recorded and that it is accurate, kept up to date and accessible to those who need it. Having accurate, up-to-date information is critical to ensuring that buildings are managed safely. Clause 88 is vital to ensuring that all buildings in scope of the new, more stringent regime are safe and remain safe.

Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I welcome you to the Chair, Mrs Miller. I have one question for the Minister about the golden thread. How will it apply to buildings that are converted by permitted development and are in scope—that is, buildings of 18 metres and above or of seven storeys or more?

Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

Regardless of how buildings have ended up in scope—whether through permitted development rights or otherwise—they will be part of the regime. Therefore, the golden thread will apply. My understanding of permitted development rights, however, is that currently a permitted development right cannot convert to a building over 18 metres. Someone would have to apply for planning permission.

In the absence of further questions, this feels cheeky but speaking as someone who has managed buildings from construction to operation and seen documents handed over that are out of date, inconsistent or incomplete, I know that it is incredibly important to have that golden thread running through not only newly constructed buildings, but existing buildings. It will be invaluable to their safe management.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 88 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.