|Posted by wilkinsoncc on July 6, 2020 at 11:10 AM|
The recent announcement by the Government to increase permitted development rights has kicked off another debate about the issue of red tape and taking a bonfire to the regulations.
We have been here before and an enormous amount of work was put in by professional’s in our industry to get a consensus on the way forward.
In 2009 the Labour Government published the Future of Building Control Implementation Plan (https://www.thebuildinginspector.org/future%20of%20building%20contro%20report-1.pdf) which set out a clear road map for improvements to the Building Control system
In 2010 I was part of the National Planning Forum working group that published a report that explained how the interface between planning and Building Control could be improved – you can see its recommendations here (https://www.thebuildinginspector.org/national%20planning%20forum%20Improving%20the%20Connection%20-%20final%20draft%2013.08.10.pdf)
In 2012 I wrote this piece in Architects Journal ( https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/home/the-regs-geoff-wilkinson-pours-fuel-on-the-bonfire-of-the-regs-saying-the-government-review-doesnt-go-far-enough/8638984.article) explaining how the Government could go further in reducing regulation removing bureaucracy, and inconsistencies whilst most importantly still maintaining standards.
In 2016 the More Homes Fewer Complaints report (https://www.thebuildinginspector.org/more-homes.-fewer-complaints.pdf) set recommendations to close the performance gap, and proposed a major shake-up of the warranty market to address the perceived conflicts with organisations cross selling services.
Unfortunately, whilst many of the recommended cuts were made by the Coalition Government, the proposed additional strengthening measures weren’t. As a result we find ourselves a decade down the road and we are still haven’t implemented the Future Of Building Control Implementation plan, and we are still debating the same old questions, instead of getting on with Building Standards in the UK.
Dame Hackitt’s post Grenfell report has started to address some of these issues, but in my opinion has missed the opportunity to address the whole Planning and Building Control system and give us something that is fit for purpose. There are many recommendations I could list, but some immediate concerns to me are
• We are still debating the road to Zero Carbon, when we already had a plan (before the Treasury pulled it in 2015).
• Nationally prescribed room sizes were published, but not made into regulations, and we have seen a huge increase in low quality multiple occupation building’s which fail to meet these standards.
• There are still inadequate enforcement powers and penalties, and builders can commence works without having Approved Plans
• There is still no requirement to actually build what was shown on the Approved Plans
• The regulations still don’t encourage Retro First as the default and then modern methods of construction for new builds.
In addition the world has also moved on and there are even more challenges that the regulations need to catch up, some examples here being
• There are serious issues with overheating in buildings (especially single aspect apartments) yet there is no effective regulation to cover this
• The way we use building’s has changed – HMO’s, Air BNB etc for example fall though the net as they are neither one use nor another.
Lastly we still face the absurd situation where the regulations allow buildings to be “no worse than existing” rather than require improvements in standards. The concept of “consequential improvement” has long been established and would provide a great tool to implement upgrades identified in condition reports, fire risk assessments etc within the affordability of programmed works.
We need to urgently get a grip of the current trajectory and look at the work that was done 10 years ago and build on that, if we are not destined to make the same mistakes again. If Ministers are willing to listen I would be happy to explain this all to them and enable us to move from Boris’s simple Build, Build, Build to Build Bold, Build Better, Build Beautiful - Build Britain.