Revisions to the building regulations bring in new requirements on electric vehicle infrastructure

Last year the government brought forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030. However, a frequent concern over electric car ownership that makes some hesitate to make the switch is “range anxiety” and the ability to readily access charging points.

Patrick Cooney

While the government may well provide support to develop the market, it seems likely that most of the necessary charging infrastructure will not be funded by the state. To allay concerns over charging availability and encourage the country to move away from fossil fuel vehicles in the necessary timeframe, the government has introduced new Building Regulations Part S to drive the installation of adequate infrastructure within developments. It anticipates up to 145,000 extra charging points will be installed across England each year up to 2030, thanks to these regulations.

Where does Part S apply?

Part S came into force on 15 June 2022. However, it will not apply in relation to building work where a building notice or an initial notice has been given to, or full plans deposited with, a local authority before 15 June 2022, provided that the building work is started before 15 June 2023.

Part S applies not only to new buildings of both residential and non-residential varieties, which is where the energy efficiency and sustainability of design is perhaps more at the forefront of consideration, but also to:

  • Buildings undergoing a material change of use to dwellings (such as converting an agricultural or commercial building into a dwelling)
  • Residential and non-residential buildings undergoing a major renovation where 10 or more dwelling are being created
  • Mixed-use buildings that are either new or undergoing a major renovation.

The meaning of a “major renovation” here is taken from the Building Regulations 2010 and is the renovation of a building where more than 25% of the surface area of the building envelope undergoes renovation.

>>Also read: Market overview: Green travel infrastructure

>>Also read: The urgency of now: how can construction meet its green targets?

Listed buildings, national monuments, heritage buildings and other historic and traditional buildings will receive special consideration from building control bodies and may be exempt from the new regulations where compliance would “unacceptably affect” the significance of the building or its surroundings.

What does Part S require?

Where Part S applies, electric vehicle (EV) charging points are required to be installed so that every new home with associated parking has an EV charge point. Where there is a renovation of residential buildings with 10 or more dwellings, there must be at least one EV charge point for each dwelling with associated parking and cable routes in all spaces without charge points.

Similarly, new non-residential buildings with more than 10 parking spaces must have a minimum of one charge point with cable routes for one in five of the total number of spaces, and any non-residential buildings undergoing major renovation with more than more than 10 parking spaces will require the same.

Clearly, such additional requirements adds to development costs, which always concentrates minds but even more so given the effect on energy prices of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the present inflationary pressures in the economy. To prevent prohibitive costs, Part S provides that the average connection cost of each EV charge point is capped at £3,600.

Where the connection cost is greater than the cap, the maximum number of EV charge points before the costs for each exceed £3,600 should be installed. The level of costs can be evidenced by providing at least two formal quotes to the building control body during the notice/plans stage. This cap does not apply to changes in use, major renovations of 10 or more dwellings, or new non-residential buildings.

Part S further provides that where installation costs exceed 7% of the total costs of a major renovation, then the residential building is exempt from the requirement to install any EV charging points. There is still a requirement to install cabling to the associated parking spaces, except where the cost of those would exceed 7% of the total costs.

What effect will Part S have?

The new regulations are one of the government’s tools to kick-start the EV charging market. The hope is that ultimately consumers will become more sophisticated and confident in EVs. However, it remains to be seen how supply and demand in the market will adapt to the £3,600 and 7% cost levels, and how Part S will affect behaviour towards the supply of designs that are offered to increasingly cost conscious and environmentally aware consumers.

Patrick Cooney is a legal director at Birketts