Report of the Director of the Built Environment.
The Committee received a report of the Director of the Built Environment updating Members on the workings of the District Surveyor’s office which reports to this Committee for the purposes of building control, engineering services for the City’s major infrastructure and to provide resilience to buildings and businesses within the Square Mile that may be affected by climatic and environmental risks.
A Member wished to congratulate the District Surveyor on his appointment as the Junior Vice President of the London District Surveyors Association. He then went on to state that he recalled that last year’s annual report had contained a table which detailed departmental costs against fee income but could not see this same information presented on this occasion. The Member also referred to the proposed Building Regulation changes from the Government, particularly 2.3 (page 425) where it was suggested that they were to remove the ability for the developer to choose which building control body oversees the construction. He questioned whether the District Surveyor felt that this would be a positive change for his office or a threat.
The District Surveyor reported that information around departmental costs and fee income had been provided in a recent report concerning fee increases. He undertook to recirculate this information to the Member outside of the meeting.
With regard to the second question, the District Surveyor reported that Government proposals, following the Grenfell tragedy, would be that buildings in scope (i.e. any buildings/blocks with residential property and standing at over 18m in height) would come under the Building Safety Regulator. The Building Safety Regulator would be the Health and Safety Executive who would be the Building Control body for these buildings and would be responsible for deciding who would then carry out the work for them. They had indicated that this would be given to local authority building control (in the City Corporation’s case the District Surveyor) as opposed to a privately approved inspector. He added that, for his office, this would be a benefit but underlined that this would only apply to buildings in scope. Recently, however, the Government had also indicated that buildings in scope could decrease to encompass those that were 11m and higher and could also be expanded to encompass anywhere providing accommodation where people sleep in future years (e.g. boarding houses, hostels, student accommodation and hotels).
Officers advised that City Corporation staff would be trained accordingly and had been working with government departments to become a ‘centre of excellence’ and assist other neighbouring boroughs who might lack the expertise.
The Chair commended this positive step and thanked the District Surveyor for his work.
RESOLVED – That, Members note the report.