Yesterday I pressed for the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, to review the privatised system of building control which is putting lives at risk. My intervention in the House of Commons followed a letter I had written to him two months ago after a student housing complex in Sheffield was evacuated due to multiple fire safety failings.
Shockingly, the building had been approved as fit for occupation by private building inspectors without a site inspection. When the problems came to light, the City Council acted swiftly to evacuate the building and relocate tenants, but the incident highlighted flaws in the system for privatised building control.
Building control was part privatised by Margaret Thatcher in 1985 and John Major expanded the system in 1997, introducing the ‘approved inspectors’ regime. The system came under the spotlight in The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety commissioned after the Grenfell Tower tragedy and led by Dame Judith Hackitt.
In the exchange, which can be viewed here and read here, I pressed the Secretary of State to urgently review building control procedures. In my view the Sheffield incident highlights the weaknesses of a system in which developers are able to ‘choose who marks their homework’. He gave me reassurances on the issue and I’ll be following up to ensure effective action is taken.