§ Mr. Matthew Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how the sound insulation provisions of the building regulations are enforced214W currently; what plans he has to introduce post-construction testing of building; and what plans he has to introduce standards for impact sound transmission into the regulations;
(2) what is his estimate of the proportion of post-1985 buildings which have sound insulation below the standard generally regarded as reasonable for building regulations purposes.
§ Mr. Robert B. Jones
Reasonable standards of sound insulation between new dwellings were required by the 1985 building regulations, which applied in England and Wales outside London. In 1986, these were extended to cover new dwellings built in London where previously there was no requirement for sound insulation in the London Building Acts. The requirements were further extended in the 1991 building regulations to cover reasonable standards of sound insulation between converted flats. We have no information on the proportion of dwellings built since 1985 where reasonable provision for sound insulation was not required.
The approved document to part E of the building regulations provides guidance on ways of demonstrating compliance, including recommending forms of construction which have been shown to provide a reasonable standard of sound insulation in practice. As with other parts of the building regulations, they are administered by local authorities or approved inspectors who normally assess plans and carry out site visits.
My Department funds a programme of research at the Building Research Establishment to assess how the regulations are operating in practice. As noted above, the provisions for sound insulation were last strengthened in 1991, and they are kept under review. The need for, and the costs, benefits and practical implications of, post-construction testing, and any further provisions for impact sound transmission beyond those already covered by the regulations which might be considered necessary for the purpose of achieving a reasonable standard of health, are included in such reviews.