HL Deb 10 December 1991 vol 533 cc32-4WA
Lord Norrie

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When it proposes to implement the conclusions of the Department of the Environment's review of the building regulations and what are the proposed changes.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Baroness Blatch)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has today laid regulations to revoke and replace the Building Regulations 1985 and to consolidate all subsequent amendments to those regulations.

The Building Regulations 1991 implement the final conclusions of a major review of both the technical and procedural requirements of the building regulations.

The main changes arising from the technical review relate to Part A (Structure), Part B (Fire safety), Part C (Site preparation and resistance to moisture), Part E (Resistance to the passage of sound), Part G (Hygiene), Part K (Stairs, ramps and guards) and Part M (Access and facilities for disabled people) and a new Part N (Glazing—materials and protection).

The fire safety requirements (Part B) and their supporting guidance document have been revised to reflect changes in building form and fire protection technology. These requirements maintain, and in certain respects enhance, the existing level of life safety. The replacement of the mandatory rules on means of escape in case of fire by guidance which is much wider in scope will introduce flexibility in this important area of building control, as will changes to the guidance on structural fire precautions and the introduction of provisions for sprinklers. Guidance on the fitting of smoke detectors in all new dwellings is included, and there is a new requirement on the provision of access and facilities for the fire service which will assist firefighters in the protection of life.

New guidance on the requirements concerning contaminated land (Part C), in conjunction with two new Building Research Establishment publications, gives advice on dealing with the risks associated with radon and landfill gas when building in those areas likely to be affected by these gasses.

The provisions relating to access and facilities for disabled people (Part M) have been extended to cover all floors of non-domestic buildings and most extensions, and now address some of the needs of people with hearing and sight impairments.

The introduction of a new requirement (Part N) seeks to reduce the risks associated with glazing in buildings, and will apply to all conservatories and porches whether or not they are otherwise exempt from the regulations.

Other important changes include extending the requirement relating to large span roofs to shopping malls, the extension of sound insulation requirements to flat conversions, new guidance on stairs and the risks associated with young children, and the revision of provisions governing the installation of unvented hot water systems.

The procedural review resulted in a number of detailed changes, the most significant of which is the introduction of completion certificates. This new requirement will enable people undertaking building work to request that the local authority provide a compliance certificate on the satisfactory completion of the controlled work. Such certificates, which are already being issued by some local authorities on a voluntary basis, should provide reassurance to future building owners and to people buying and selling houses.

It is intended that the new regulations should come into force on 1st June 1992, to allow time for builders and others to familiarise themselves with the new requirements. Revised Approved Documents, which provide practical guidance on meeting the requirements, are being published today by HMSO. Copies of these documents have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.