Minister for Communities Stephen Williams MP has stressed the increasingly important role of local authority building control, whilst recognising that public services are under immense financial pressures.
Speaking to the 2014 LABC members’ conference in Nottingham on 25 March, he stated that building work must reach higher standards, and that building control had demonstrated it could ensure that these requirements are met while at the same time saving developers time and money.
Recalling a recent visit to Bristol City Council’s building control team, he told delegates: “The visit really showed me the vital role that you play and the importance of having a strong public sector building control service - to have staff with relevant experience and expertise to ensure that buildings will be safe and high performing.
“I have come to understand how much we should all value the important work undertaken by local authority building control bodies. It is incumbent on government to be mindful of how change can impact on these important services, in order to ensure they continue to be delivered effectively.”
Mr Williams’ speech came in the wake of his recent announcement on the outcome of the Housing Standards Review. The government has decided that, while many voluntary standards imposed on housebuilders should be scrapped, those which remain should be incorporated into building regulations.
The previous consultation suggested that, in the future, such schemes might be enforced through the planning system, but industry bodies including LABC pressed strongly for all building standards to be in building regulations - and the government has accepted this.
Responding to the Minister’s speech, LABC Chief Executive Paul Everall CBE said: “Our members in local authority building control welcome this vote of confidence from the government in the work that we do. But the government also needs to recognise the extreme financial pressures local authorities are under. LABC will continue to press for improvements to the building control system which will lessen the administrative burden both on them and their customers.”