Photo of Baroness Hanham

Baroness Hanham (Conservative)

As part of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s commitment to ensuring our buildings continue to be safe and sustainable, I am setting out today further changes to the Building Regulations regime that have been overseen by my colleague the Building Regulations Minister, the Rt Hon Don Foster MP. The changes are to the statutory guidance contained in Approved Documents A (Structure) and C (Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture) and will come into force on 1 October in England.

The consultation paper issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 31 January last year contained a range of proposals to improve the Building Regulations regime. Following the successful introduction of the significant deregulatory measures in April this year, we are today publishing two further elements of that package, changes to the guidance in Approved Document A and Approved Document C. These changes were developed after active engagement with external partners and demonstrate the Government’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that where regulation is necessary that it remains up-to-date and fit-for-purpose.

Approved Document A provides guidance on how to meet the Building Regulation requirements for structurally safe buildings. The Approved Document published in 2004 includes references to British Standards that might be used for structural design, which the British Standards Institution replaced in 2010. The new British Standards reflect latest industry practice and adopt a new pan-European design approach referred to as the Eurocodes. The changes I am announcing today will see the guidance updated so Approved Document A refers to these new British Standards. A number of minor related changes are also made to the guidance in Approved Document A and Approved Document C.

While parts of industry have already moved over to this new design approach voluntarily, it is recognised there will be transitional costs to some in industry. That is why the consultation proposed issuing additional guidance alongside the Approved Document to minimise the impact on business. We propose to do this in two ways. First, we will make clear how, given the functional nature of the Building Regulations, use of the withdrawn British Standards remains acceptable for some time, providing industry with a number of years to adapt. Secondly, we propose to provide reassurance that engineers and Building Control might agree, subject to the requirements of the Regulations being met, continued use of the withdrawn design standards is appropriate for smaller-scale, less complex structural work for the foreseeable future, thereby avoiding the additional transitional costs. The Department is writing to building control bodies and industry setting this out.

The major change to Approved Document C relates to protection from radon gas. Exposure to radon is the second major cause of deaths from lung cancer in the

UK. Approved Document C sets out, by reference to radon maps, where it is necessary to incorporate measures to reduce peoples’ exposure to radon. The changes we are introducing will update the guidance so as to align it with the most up-to-date radon maps. This is a sensible retargeting of existing health protection with a clear benefit to those living in higher-risk radon areas.

In addition to the changes described above, there are a number of other minor, technical changes to both Approved Documents.

I am placing the amendments to the Approved Documents, along with the Impact Assessments that accompany these changes, in the Library of the House.

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