Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (445)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

455 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will comment on the fire safety issues at an apartment block in Dundrum, Dublin 14, that is mentioned in the media and to advise as to the progress being made regarding the Building Control (Regulations) 2012; if new legislation will be introduced in relation to fire safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34667/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government)

On 3 July 2012 Dublin Fire Brigade, as the relevant Fire Authority, was notified that construction defects giving rise to fire safety concerns had come to attention in relation to a development at Dundrum View, also known as the Laurels, in Dublin 16. The development consists of three apartment blocks with a total of 80 apartments, 68 of which are let to private tenants.

It is understood that the concerns came to light while repairs were being carried out to the development, which led to the receiver in charge of the development becoming aware that the development as constructed was not in compliance with the relevant Fire Safety Certificate.

It is understood that the receiver, acting responsibly in consultation with fire consultants, has undertaken to revert to the Fire Authority with proposals to arrive at a workable and manageable solution for necessary remediation works. The receiver has also confirmed that the residents will be moved to alternative accommodation pending and during remediation works. While this is obviously a stressful and distressing situation for the residents it is understood that they will not be required to meet rent or utility charges while in temporary accommodation, which is expected to be for a period of at least three months.

The statutory responsibility for compliance with the Building Regulations rests with designers, builders and building owners. In this context the party with legal responsibility for the development at Dundrum View has acted responsibly by declaring the problem to the Fire Authority on the understanding that it will be remediated to the satisfaction of the Fire Authority with the costs being fully met by the receiver.

The Chief Fire Officer has engaged, and will continue to engage, in detailed discussions with each of the other parties involved in the process, namely Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council as Building Control Authority, the receiver and their consultants, with the objective of ensuring that all necessary remedial action can be taken in the shortest possible timeframe. I have also asked my Department to continue to liaise with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in relation to the evolving situation at Dundrum View.

In relation to the proposed Building Control (Amendment) Regulations which will provide for mandatory certification of compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations and for the submission of drawings demonstrating how the building concerned has been designed and built to comply with all parts of the Building Regulations, including Part B (Fire Safety), the position is that the proposed regulations were released for public consultation earlier this year. The public consultation period has now concluded and my Department is currently reviewing the submissions received with a view to having a definitive set of Building Control (Amendment) Regulations agreed and signed into law in the coming months.

Mandatory certification and the submission of drawings are key reforms which I believe will have the capacity to improve the quality of buildings and will lead to a further strengthening of the regulatory regime.