ODPM agrees to develop process for updating regulations in a ‘simpler, more transparent manner’.

Building has won its campaign to reform the Building Regulations after the government this week said it would simplify the system.

In its response to the Barker report this week, the government revealed its intentions to simplify the regulations and make it easier for the industry to adapt to changes.

Since the end of October, Building has been lobbying the ODPM to rethink its policy on Building Regulations through the Reform the Regs campaign, which was launched with cross-industry support.

The campaign goals were:

  • A moratorium – no more new regulations until the ones we have now are sorted out
  • A regulation summit to inform government thinking on change
  • A champion to co-ordinate and streamline the regulations and codes affecting construction.

In response to pressure from Building and its campaign supporters, Yvette Cooper, housing and planning minister, declared she was following the Reform the Regs campaign “with interest” and said she was keen to listen to readers’ concerns.

Then this week the government published its plans to simplify the regulations. It said: “The government also needs to better align future reviews of statutory Building Regulations with this voluntary code. It will therefore develop a revised process for updating Building Regulations, which will ensure that it can continue to make improvements to statutory standards in a simpler, more transparent and less piecemeal manner. This will make it easier for the industry to adapt to changes and should improve compliance.”

The ODPM had already taken the messages of the campaign on board and has asked organisations to tender for the job of working out how the regulations could be improved.

Oliver Palmer, who was responsible for a major revision of the Building Regulations in 1984 when he worked for the then Department of the Environment, is advising Habilis, a health and safety consultant that is bidding for the work.

He said: “The regulations have reached a stage where it’s beyond a joke. The ODPM has asked for a policy report that sees what changes should be made to the system to make it work better.”

An ODPM official told Building: “We will be considering ways to take this forward with the industry in the new year.”

The news was welcomed across the industry.

Michael Ankers, chief executive of the Construction Products Association, said: “We have been calling for this for some time so we are very encouraged by the news. We will be very keen to work with the government to bring change about.”

Paul Everall, chief executive of Local Authority Building Control, said: “This sounds like excellent news. However, there is no mention of a regs champion so we hope that the government will also look at the other aspects of the campaign.”

Andrew Smith, RICS external communications manager, said: “This is a good example of how the government, authorities and professions can work together for the good of the industry.”