Over the last year, and particularly in the last few months, we have increasingly been supporting clients on communications around fire safety.  Account Manager Niamh McBride has supported the expansion of our very own dedicated Building Safety team and recently attended the CIOB’s Safer Buildings Conference to find out more about this important industry issue. Here’s how she got on:

I attended the CIOB’s Safer Buildings Conference earlier this month which focused on the culture change needed around building safety in the industry. The details of the Building Safety Bill were discussed in-depth, with speakers such as Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, Minister of State (for Building Safety and Fire); Dame Judith Hackitt DBE, author of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety; and Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings.

From new legislation to protect leaseholders to the creation of a Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive, this legislation represents the biggest regulatory changes to the UK-built environment in almost 40 years. And it will apply to all buildings, regardless of height or risk category.  

Creating a resident engagement strategy will be an important part of the new legislation and, thinking with my PR cap on, I was once again reminded of why we always recommend to clients to engage with residents and the local community where they are building as early on as possible.

The importance of resident engagement has perhaps never been clearer in the wake of fire safety reviews and remediation works taking place in buildings across the U.K. – with more set to come as most large developers have signed the Building Safety Pledge. It is essential to keep your residents, as well as your key stakeholders, up to date with what is happening and give them an opportunity to voice their concerns and be heard. As part of this, it’s also important to ensure your sales teams and employees are fully aware of the key messaging and what stage the relevant building is at. Establishing an open, honest and regular communication should be a priority – and something we can help with here at Building Relations.

Whilst there is an ambitious road map ahead to implement the Bill in the next eighteen months, with many new requirements in effect as soon as April 2023, the message from the Safer Buildings Conference was and is clear: don’t wait for secondary legislation, the time to act is now. If you are looking for PR and communications support around the sensitive issue of building safety, please feel free to get in touch with me at niamh@building-relations.co.uk.