Regulation Excellence Seminar
Constructing Excellence in Yorkshire and Humberside continued its 2014 series with the Regulation Excellence breakfast seminar this week, at the Rose Bowl at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Our regular chair, Cliff Jones of the NHS Department of Health once again did the honours of chairing the event and welcomed a host of new faces in response to the specialist nature of the presentations. In addition to his role on the Senior Management team of Procure 21 + where he chairs the Principal Supply Chain Members Financial and Commercial Group he is also part time lecturer at the University.
Cliff introduced our first speaker Andy Thomas from Butler and Young, which is one of the largest and most prevalent approved inspector organisations in the country. Andy himself has been in building control for over 35 years , lecturers on building regulations at Universities and to Architects, Contractors and Clients as well as being CPD provider to RICS, RIBA, CIOB and the Fire Services. Being based in Wales, we were most grateful for his time and effort in sharing such knowledge with our team in Yorkshire.
Andys’s presentation started with Charles II who introduced the first building inspectors following the Great Fire of London, but even in 1985 there were still 1000 deaths being recorded, which in 2012 had been reduced significantly to 300 mainly with the introduction of fire alarms which have grown from 8% to 86% in the same period, but this is still an unacceptable high level of deaths. Other deaths in respect of our built environment are recorded in respect of stairs, drownings in baths and an unusually high number from Radon (as provided by National Statistics).
In order to tackle such issues the area of building control continues with the challenges although the current thrust is to deal with the increasing ‘red tape’ as upheld in the Taylor Report and Harmon Report where it is noted that planning is ‘unfit for purpose’, and the need to sweep away bureaucratic assessment regimes. Thus the strategy for change in 2013 was changes to Part L, new part K and L and amendments to the other parts of the regulations.
In terms of energy use Andy presented some startling statistics which reinforced the need to meet the Zero Carbon 2020 target. In terms of BC the four key steps were identified as avoid solar gains, less use of energy, use of renewables and allowable solutions (offsetting), and concluding then the thrust of the changes to the Building regulations currently is the reduction of regulations themselves, reducing the administrative burden, clarity of guidance and removing conflicting instructions.
Cliff then welcomed John Brooks from Turley, Planning Consultants who provided his expert insights into the changes in planning in an equally informed and compelling way to Andy. The planning system is also going through simplification. These changes are nothing too radical but again look to simplify and clarify arrangements.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) simplified the planning system and has been well received, in which it is stated councils must have a 5 year plan of its own for housing. This is leading to a change in mind-set in many Local Authorities where the opportunity is being generally embraced e.g. in Leeds 2-3 years ago there were 11 applications refused, appealed and then approved, let’s consider the cost in this bureaucracy?
John covered other areas such as the Permitted Development Changes (e.g. offices to residential), the Prior Notification Process where the key thing is the notion of deemed approval after the notice period.
In terms of flooding, John noted that the planning system does try to predict flooding and that the new guidance in the NPPF, replacing guidance in PPG25 and PPS25, is a step in the right direction.
Turning to Leeds’ Unitary Development Plan, this is now being updated and is substantially complete, and within this the need for 70,000 new homes means increasing pressure on finding new sites.
Elsewhere there is a new specialist Planning Court being established within the High Court to allow proper focus and a speeding up of the legal process using expert judges particularly where judicial review cases are being brought.Cliff kindly thanked both speakers for their expert insight into these specialist topics and commented on the tremendous value of the Constructing Excellence programme in helping professionals understand these areas more clearly. This was reflected by a lively Q&A session which covered queries around the amount and recording of Radon deaths (google: radon maps!), sequential planning and the impact of the simplification of regulations in respect of e.g. Code for Sustainable Homes and how this is to be managed (Andy stated this already covered in the new B Regs.)
Presentations from this event can be found at http://ckehub.org/events/116
The next Constructing Excellence Event will be held on Wednesday 26th March and will focus on QS excellence (further details here http://ckehub.org/events/118)