The Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) recommended restricting the use of Building Notices as part of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation paper, Future Changes to the Building Regulations, which is due in December.
BRAC strongly recommended the introduction of a tougher system that would require detailed plans to be submitted to local authority Building Control departments for a number of schemes that currently only require Building Notices. But sources close to the discussions between BRAC and junior minister Andrew Stunell said the government was intent on ignoring BRAC’s advice because it “clashed with the coalition’s policy of deregulation”.
The insider said: “The government is loath to introduce new regulations at a time when it is promising to reduce red tape. So it is prepared to ignore its own advisory body’s recommendation, and the view of the wider industry, and keep the current system.”
A Building Notice allows work to be carried out before detailed plans have been produced. It is generally used on less complex projects, primarily on domestic property for work such as loft conversions and some extensions.
But critics insist the Building Notice system greatly increases the risk of clients and contractors breaching the Building Regulations during construction.
Under the current system local Building Control departments need to inspect each stage of a project to ensure it complies with the regulations and critics insist this puts too much strain on the limited resources of local authorities, particularly against the backdrop of government cost cutting.
Paul Everall, chief executive of Local Authority Building Control (LABC), said: “We don’t want Building Notices scrapped completely, they have a place, but their use needs to be restricted.”
One Building Control insider said: “Loft conversions raise safety issues such as escape routes in the event of a fire as well as a range of structural viability concerns.”