The new regime would apply to all new multi-occupied residential buildings over 18 metres, or six storeys, in height; bringing it into line with the ban on combustible cladding announced in December. Parts of the new regime regulating the occupation of buildings would also apply to existing buildings above the height threshold.
The consultation runs until 31 July 2019. An additional call for evidence on the effectiveness of the current fire safety legislation for higher-risk workplaces and multi-occupancy residential buildings under the height threshold closes on the same date.
The government is anticipating that almost 15,000 buildings in England will be covered by the new regime by 2029.
Health and safety law expert Katherine Metcalfe of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that the government's proposals "go significantly beyond in a number of respects" the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt in her independent review of building regulations and fire safety.
"The new regulatory regime will apply to many more buildings than Hackitt proposed which has the potential to prompt a widespread cultural shift for housing, and more broadly for the UK's built environment," she said.
"The new building safety regulator will have teeth and significant enforcement powers. The question remains as to how new duties will be rolled out and policed, which will be crucial to its success. The emphasis on identifying senior individuals within organisations who will be responsible for fire and building safety is a clear statement of intent about who should be held to account if safety is not achieved," she said.
Hackitt's final report, published in May 2018, made more than 50 wide-ranging recommendations aimed at changing the culture of the construction of high-rise buildings and improving fire safety. Her report proposed the creation of a new 'joint competent authority' which would sit at the heart of a strengthened regulatory regime, allowing the existing bodies responsible for building standards and fire safety to collaborate more closely.
The government has gone further than this, instead proposing the creation of a new building safety regulator. This new regulator would oversee the new regulatory regime, industry competence initiatives and a mandatory occurrence reporting regime, backed by significant powers to impose civil and criminal penalties. It is not yet clear how this new regulator would interact with the bodies which currently have oversight of different aspects of the regime such as local authority building control, fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive.