Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower last June, the Scottish Government took the swift decision to establish a Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety to review Scotland’s building and fire safety regulatory frameworks. As part of the Group’s actions, two expert panels were created. One to review compliance and enforcement aspects of the building standards system and one to review the fire safety aspects in building standards and guidance primarily relating to high rise domestic buildings.
I am pleased that the reviews found Scotland’s building standards system is robust. For around 80% of building work, the system is well suited, with some improvements needed to the key actions undertaken throughout the construction phase and at completion. For the remaining 20% of the buildings constructed in Scotland - where there is often additional complexity in design and construction, for example high rise buildings - they found more needs to be done to provide robust assurance that safety critical aspects are designed and built as intended and in accordance with the relevant standards. The panels also recognised that there were issues with smaller building work, and recommended that at this scale the requirement is for better implementation of the current regime rather than changes to the system.
The recommendations of the two expert panels have been accepted in full by the Working Group. We believe the proposed actions set out by the review panels, offer the opportunity to ensure that future buildings in Scotland’s are even safer for the people of Scotland who will live in, and use them each day.
I am grateful to Professor John Cole and to Dr Paul Stollard for chairing the two expert panels and also to the many panel members who gave their time and expert knowledge to consider how best to improve and re-shape the building standards system. I would also like to express my gratitude to former Ministers on the Group, Angela Constance and Annabelle Ewing for their support and direction in moving this important work forward.
The fire safety of our buildings is crucial, especially where buildings are people’s homes or serve a highly valued public purpose such as our schools and hospitals. We are also committed to ensuring that buildings in Scotland are built to robust standards.
This consultation consolidates the recommendations made to the Working Group and seeks views on the recommendations and the proposed changes to Section 2: Fire in the Technical Handbooks.
I hope you will take this opportunity to give us your thoughts.
Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning