HL Deb 11 April 2002 vol 633 cc124-5WA
Lord Howie of Troon

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On what evidence they have concluded that Building Regulations approved documents have inhibited designers and developers from pursuing innovation in constuction, as stated in the document Regulatory Reform-the Government's Action Plan. [HL3092]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)

My department consulted on amending Section of 7 of the Building Act 1984 in April 2000. This consultation arose from the Deregulation Task Force report for 1995–96 which said:

"Anyone who wants to comply with the Building Regulations by a route other than that set out in the Approved Documents must prove to the Building Inspector that their alternative is compliant. We think that this burden of proof should be reversed. The current legal status of approved documents should be changed so that businesses can develop innovative ways of complying with the regulations without having to prove that they are not breaking the law. They should provide a safe haven, not a straitjacket".

To test this assertion, the consultation proposed that the status of the approved documents should be changed to alter the burden of proof from developers to building control bodies. However, the results of this were inconclusive. While some respondents considered that the current legal status of the documents did inhibit designers and developers, others argued that they did not and that there would be a loss of necessary protection if their status were changed. As a result of this, we are considering how the approved documents could be changed to meet the concerns of all parties.

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