BESA responds to government’s decision on building planning system and safety regulations

Share this content


Government extends deadline for building control officers’ competence assessments

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has expressed its support for the government’s decision to extend the deadline for building control officers in England to complete their competence assessments, a move aimed at preventing a potential collapse of the country’s planning system.

However, BESA has raised concerns that the ongoing uncertainty is affecting progress towards enhancing building safety.

Building control officers are now given until July 6 to complete their assessments, although they must still register by the April 6 deadline.

This extension comes as a response to fears that many inspectors have not yet begun the registration process, with BESA emphasizing the urgency as the “clock is ticking”.

Building safety regime introduced in response to Grenfell Tragedy

The extension is part of efforts to enforce the new building safety regime, introduced in the wake of the Grenfell Tragedy.

Philip White, the director of building safety at the Health & Safety Executive, highlighted the importance of balancing professional concerns with the necessity to implement the Building Safety Act and enhance industry standards.

Rachel Davidson, BESA’s director of specialist knowledge, commended the Regulator for striking a balance that allows the building control profession to continue meeting current demands while advancing towards a more robust safety regime.

Davidson stressed the importance of maintaining confidence in the planning process to avoid project delays and cost overruns, underlining the significance of a competent pool of building control officers and planning officials.

Slow progress and challenges in the new planning gateways

Despite the extensions, BESA’s Building Safety Act Advisory Group (BSAAG) has warned that progress through the new planning gateways introduced under the Act is very slow, with only small-scale refurbishment projects on existing high-risk buildings currently passing through Gateway One.

Davidson pointed out the reluctance among architects and consultants to quote for contracts due to uncertainties over potential design liabilities and differing interpretations of competence for duty holders.

She emphasized the need for swift action to address the current planning issues and foster industry cooperation with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) to deliver the necessary cultural change within construction.

BESA comment

Rachel Davidson said: “The industry must have confidence in the planning process otherwise we will have further project delays and cost overruns.

“But we also need to be progressing as quickly as possible towards a robust safety regime and that depends on having a well-resourced, verifiably competent pool of building control officers and planning officials.”

IFSJ Comment

The recent developments in the building safety regulations, highlighted by the Building Engineering Services Association’s response to the government’s extension for competence assessments, reflect the ongoing challenges and complexities within the UK’s construction and planning system.

These measures, though necessary to prevent immediate issues, underscore the broader need for a comprehensive and cohesive approach to building safety and regulation compliance.

The balance between maintaining operational continuity in the construction industry and ensuring the advancement of safety standards is delicate and requires careful navigation.

This situation calls for a collaborative effort among government bodies, industry associations, and professionals to ensure that the transition to the new regulatory regime is as smooth and effective as possible, with a clear focus on safeguarding the well-being of residents and enhancing the reliability of the UK’s built environment.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox