The Institution of Structural Engineers The Institution of Structural Engineers
Date published

Learn how the Building Safety Act impacts on the building control application process for Higher-Risk Buildings (HRBs)

Gateway stages

There are three gateways at key stages in design are part of the Building Safety Act, for Higher-Risk Buildings.

  • Planning Gateway one – at the planning application stage
  • Gateway two – before building work starts
  • Gateway three – when building work is completed

Gateways two and three are stop/go decision points that must be passed before development can proceed to the next stage.

The Building Safety Regulator will oversee building work as the building control body for Higher-Risk Buildings.
Local authorities will remain the building control body for other buildings.

Gateway 1: Planning applications

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a statutory consultee for planning applications that involve or may involve a relevant building. As part of their planning application to the local planning authority, applicants will need to show that they have:

  • considered fire safety needs relevant to land use planning for the proposed building

  • considered these needs at an early stage

  • incorporated your thinking into your planning application.

HSE provides local planning authorities with fire safety input on proposals. Examples of fire safety needs relevant to land use planning include:

  • site layout

  • water supplies for fighting fires

  • access for fire services.

As part of the building safety reforms, the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) is now the building control authority for high-rise buildings.

Gateway two

Gateway two replaces the building control deposit of plans stage, before building work starts, for Higher-Risk Buildings.

Gateway two is a stop/go point and building control approval must be obtained from the Building Safety Regulator before relevant building work starts.

Gateway two applications must demonstrate how the proposals comply with building regulations requirements. Building regulations should be considered holistically with an outcome-focused approach which includes appropriate consideration of building safety. Dutyholders should not consider compliance with building regulations as a tick-box exercise.

All plans and documents must be realistic for the building and not rely on unreasonable assumptions about the occupied building once built. This includes management, maintenance, and behaviours and characteristics of residents or other users.

Information will be required about how the new duty holder competence, golden thread, and mandatory occurrence reporting requirements will be met.

Applicants will have to demonstrate that they have appropriate strategies to manage the construction phase to support building regulations compliance and reduce the possibility of building safety risks arising. This will include change management, competence management, and how compliance will be evidenced to boost accountability.

A staged plans approach (with a series of stop/go points) will be available on larger, complex projects by agreement with the BSR. Through this approach, building control approval will strictly be limited to the approved stages of work and applicants will need to submit plans and documents for other stages of work, obtaining building control approval to proceed before commencing work on those stages.

The Building Safety Regulator will have strong enforcement tools where building work commences without first obtaining building control approval.

During construction (between Gateways two and three)

During construction, those involved in the design and construction process are subject to ongoing requirements to:

  • Meet their dutyholder duties including co-operation, co-ordination, communication, and competence in the design and construction of high-quality buildings.

  • Follow the statutory change management requirements where deviations from the building control approval are proposed.

  • ​Major changes will require building control approval before they can be made whilst other changes must be notified to the Building Safety Regulator and cannot be carried out for a prescribed period. This is to ensure that the impact of proposed changes is thoroughly considered with proportionate regulatory oversight. The approach to categorising major and notifiable changes is set out in regulations.

  • Meet robust record-keeping requirements, develop and maintain accurate building information to hand over to the building owner at Gateway three in line with [golden thread] duties. Information and plans should accurately reflect the as-built building to help them effectively manage building safety risks when the building is in use.

Dutyholders will be under an obligation to report fire and structural safety occurrences (including near misses) in line with their mandatory occurrence reporting duties.

Gateway three: Completion

Gateway three will occur at the current completion/final certificate stage when relevant building work is complete.

Gateway three is a stop/go point, building control approval must be obtained from the Building Safety Regulator before registering and commencing occupation of a higher-risk building.

Gateway three applications must demonstrate how the building work complies with building regulations requirements to provide assurance that buildings are safe to occupy.

An application will be required including plans and documents that reflect the ‘as-built’ building (this will form part of the ‘golden thread’ of information). The information must also be handed over to the building owner to help them manage building safety risks when the building is in use by ensuring they have accurate, good quality, up-to-date information on the building.

This approach is to deliver culture change as building regulations compliance and building safety are considered throughout design and construction rather than late in the process when mitigation measures are needed.

Partial completion (with a series of stop/go points) will be possible and will need to meet the gateway three requirements to assure building safety for occupants before the relevant part of the building comes to be used.
Completion certificates will be issued if a gateway three application is approved.

The Building Safety Regulator has strong enforcement powers to deal with breaches of building regulations.

Only once Gateway three has been passed (either for partial or full completion) can the new building be registered with the Building Safety Regulator for occupation.

It is an offence to occupy a new Higher-Risk Building that has not been registered. Registration is a separate process to Gateway three.

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