While Conservative leadership hopefuls are busy battling for the headlines, the Government has snuck out a consultation that could rip up the rule book on how we build in England.
Many in the industry will have been expecting to see a watered down list of the recommendations made in the Government's ‘Building a Safer Future’ official response to Judith Hackitt’s post-Grenfell review, but quite the opposite has happened. Among the proposals in this consultation are significant changes to the Building Regulation system, with further consultations planned later this year. These include a full review of Part B (Fire Safety) – this was expected as Part B came under a high level of scrutiny following Grenfell. The Approved Document has already been tweaked to ban ACM cladding and certain insulation materials from high rises.
Also under review will be Part L (Energy efficiency) and Part F (Ventilation), which the report says will be ‘in line with the Clean Growth Strategy’. This separate review, released in 2017, suggests phasing out oil and coal heating over the next decade, pushing for only A, B and C rated Energy Performance Certificates by 2030, and encouraging heat recycling in cities.
There is also the possibility of a new section in Building Regulations to govern overheating standards in new-build developments. It currently falls on local planning authorities to consider if heavily glazed apartments blocks are going to be at risk from uncomfortable summer temperatures.
One of The Hackitt Review’s 53 recommendations was to create a new, over-arching Building Regulation document to tie all the existing separate Approved Documents together. In Building a Safer Future, the Government has confirmed it’s looking to do this. It’s also open to the idea of converting all Building Regulations into an online, easily searchable portal, which has already been successfully introduced in Scotland. Exact details of what to expect in these new Building Regulations is still to be revealed, but this is the clearest sign we’ve had so far that big changes are on the horizon.
Out of these proposed changes to the regs, we are keeping a close eye on what a new Part L could entail – especially as this will feed into the Government’s new legal objective to be net zero carbon by 2050. The possibility of a new overheating section to Building Regulations is also something we’ll be tracking as it works through Parliament.
Following the public consultation phase of these proposals, the Government will review comments and then begin establishing new laws to change the way we build moving forward. This release has the potential to bring with it the biggest shake-up of regulations for decades but time will tell just how many of these proposals will make it through to the final hurdle. Developers have until the end of July to submit their comments on these sweeping changes.