With the housing crisis continuing to make headlines we ask Paul Everall, CEO of LABC about the role of building control and whether building control is holding back house building in the UK.
This country needs more houses to be built – no question.
The Government says so, the housebuilders say so, the people who want a house say so – although they are likely to insert the word “affordable” into what they want.
So why aren’t more being built?
Could it be that over-zealous building control surveyors are stopping development which might otherwise go ahead?
I have been involved in defining the Building Regulations in England, or for how local authorities undertake building control, for more than 25 years now.
Periodically, Governments of all persuasions have shone their torch on Building Regulations with a view towards deregulation. In recent years we have had the Housing Standards Review and now the Cabinet Office is looking for productivity improvements in house building – and again the Building Regulations are under the microscope.
I have no problem with this being examined, but I do believe that with the many improvements made to the efficiency of building control over the years, this is not a major issue anymore.
Housebuilders I have talked to recently share this view. They have much bigger concerns.
Despite the reforms made to the planning system by the last Government, there are still long delays in relation to some sites and the time taken for local plans to be prepared and approved can hold developments back.
With the huge number of skilled trades laid off during the recession, there is now a severe labour shortage in some areas. And housebuilders complain about the length of time it takes to get services connected. Thankfully, financial reforms seem to have made it easier for people to buy a house, particularly if it is for the first time.
So, without being complacent, let’s keep the Building Regulations much as they are to ensure that new homes are safe, healthy, accessible and sustainable.
By Paul Everall