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Building Relationships

Government plans to improve Building Regulations

Andrew Stunell, Communities Minister, announced in December that the Government is working to improve the system of building regulation in England.

Changes will include reducing the regulatory burden on builders, making it easier and cheaper for them to comply with the planning regime. The programme of work now being set out by the The Department for Communities and Local Government results from an exercise undertaken last year, that asked the industry to identify changes that could to be made to secure compliance, either to the technical standards themselves or the regime in general.

In July, the building industry was invited to submit ideas for improvement to the building regulations regime, how the regulatory burden on the industry could be reduced and how better compliance could be delivered. Several hundred responses were received providing the information used to develop a framework for improvement. According to the minister, most respondents believe the regime is generally fit-for-purpose, but there is still room for improvement. Detailed proposals will now be developed for wider consultation with the industry which are expected to focus in particular on deregulation and streamlining of the technical and procedural aspects of the regulations.

In December, Andrew Stunell told Parliament that Building Regulations relating to the conservation of fuel and power will be revised, delivering the necessary next steps towards zero carbon buildings, and considering how they could be used to support policies promoting retrofitting of the UK’s aging building stock. He also pledged to examine how regulations might be used to ensure that new developments include suitable toilet and changing facilities for people with disabilities. Security in new homes is another aspect that the Minister believes can be improved and there are also plans to evaluate how the Regulations relating to electrical safety can be changed to lower the cost of compliance.

The Government aims to manage the process through a ‘one-in, one-out’ approach to regulation, ensuring that the cost of any new regulations is offset by regulatory savings of at least the same value.

For more information go to www.communities.gov.uk

The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.