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9 May 2024 | Comment | Article by Iwan Jenkins

Building Safety Act Wales – the latest position

The Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) applies to Wales, but the Welsh Government plans to implement a slightly different regime from England (as it is permitted to do under the BSA). This has enabled the Welsh Government to develop its own strategy, with some clear differences in approach to England. In 2021, the Welsh Government consulted on changes to introduce a new building safety framework through its Safer Buildings in Wales Whitepaper. What is the latest position in Wales on building safety reform?

The new Building Safety (Wales) Bill – likely this Senedd term

While the proposals follow a similar approach to the UK, such as the introduction of a ‘duty holder’ and a golden thread, the Welsh Government has indicated, in an update on building safety published in March 2024, that it intends to go further than the regime in place in England and ‘capture all multi-occupied residential buildings in Wales which contain two or more residential units regardless of height’. Any buildings exempt from the new regime will be clearly set out in the relevant legislation, and we understand that the Building Safety (Wales) Bill, will be introduced in this Senedd term. The Bill, when published, ‘will establish a robust and coherent regulatory system, creating clear lines of accountability, imposing a range of statutory duties on relevant duty-holders in respect of the relevant parts of a multi-occupied residential building’. Current plans for the programme are expected to place new duties on local authorities to regulate the occupation phase of the new regime when it comes into effect. The Welsh Government considers local authorities as ‘best placed’ to take on this role given that they ‘already hold a significant amount of experience in overseeing regulatory requirements and in engaging with residents in their area’. Discussions with housing leaders and local authority chief executives are already underway ‘to properly consider the cost and resourcing implications of the new building safety occupation phase regime on local authorities’ and inform the necessary implementation process.

Definition of a ‘higher risk building’ now published

Last November, the Welsh Government published the Building Safety (Description of Higher-Risk Building) (Design and Construction Phase) (Wales) Regulations 2023, which came into force on 1st January 2024. These Regulations provide that, for the purposes of the design and construction phase of the higher risk building (HRB) regime in Wales, an HRB is a building (including a structure) that is at least 18 metres in height or has at least seven storeys, and contains at least one residential unit, or is a hospital, a care home or a children’s home, and is not an ‘excluded building’ (these cover hotels, secure residential institutions, and living accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence). Details of the substantive requirements of the HRB regime in Wales will appear once the Building Safety (Wales) Bill is published and the regime’s implementation will likely require further regulations. It seems that full implementation and compliance will be in place by April 2025, with requirements relating to duty holders, the golden thread of information and gateways. At present, the only statutory requirement resulting from a building being classified as an HRB is that the building control authority for it must be a local authority.

Tighter controls on the building control profession

The Welsh Government has opted for a ‘phased’ introduction of changes to the building control regime, concluding in April 2025.The Welsh Government’s changes to the building control regime at the time of writing have focussed on regulation of the building control professional. On 6th April 2024 a suite of regulations came into force bringing in tighter controls on the building control profession in Wales. A move from the Approved Inspectors regime to a new mandatory registration scheme for Registered Building Control Approvers (RBCAs) and Registered Building Inspectors (RBIs) opened on 31st January 2024, established and maintained by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR). Due to concerns over the time required for building inspectors to register with the BSR in the appropriate class, experienced building inspectors in Wales can now complete their competency assessment and upgrade their registration until 30th September 2024.

Hugh James comment

This is the current position as at 2 May 2024 in relation to the recent changes to the building safety regime in Wales. We can expect much of the detail to be published shortly and it will be interesting to see how the regime in Wales develops in comparison to the approach taken in England. As and when the situation develops, we will publish further updates on progress.

Author bio

Iwan Jenkins


Iwan advises on non-contentious construction matters and has prepared and negotiated documentation on a wide variety of projects. He has advised on building contracts, appointments, development agreements, construction security documentation and all associated documentation.

Iwan has advised public sector clients in social housing, education, local and national government as well as contractors, consultants, sub-contractors, developers and funders in the private sector.

Iwan has a particular interest and expertise in framework agreements and collaborative construction contracts.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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