RIBA and CIAT write to the government to warn that letting 16 R&D tenders will damage coherence

Architects’ leaders have written to the government to warn it that plans to tender research work for the Building Regulations will lead to “fragmentation”.

The communities department has placed 16 notices for the R&D work in the Official Journal. This could mean that as many as 16 companies will examine changes to the regulations compared with three under the present system.

The letter, which was addressed to Caroline Flint, the housing minister, was sent by Sunand Prasad, president of the RIBA, and Mark Kennett, president of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT). In it they point out that changes to the regulations are already “unnecessarily cumbersome” and call research work to be co-ordinated.

They say: “It is difficult to imagine how the tender for these contracts for technical support for the regulations to several organisations will do anything other than cause even greater fragmentation.”

The question of changes to the regulations is particularly sensitive, as last month the communities department addressed complaints about the incoherent way regulations were amended by proposing a three-year cycle for changes.

Diane Dale, CIAT’s practice and technical director, said: “The implication is that the 16 different parts of the regulations will be managed by 16 firms. We are looking for an undertaking from the government that this is co-ordinated so the industry has a holistic set of regulations that it can work from.”

The communities department said it issued the tenders because its existing research frameworks were due to expire in June. At the moment all 16 technical areas in the regulations are bundled into five packages and tendered out to BRE, Faber Maunsell and CIRIA.

It added that tendering all areas separately could result in more than five packages being awarded, but said it was unlikely to be as many as 16.

The new contracts will begin next month and run for three years.