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Reviewing and Simplifying Regulation

Volume 557: debated on Thursday 31 January 2013

I would like to inform the House that the Government are today announcing the outcome of the red tape challenge spotlight on housing and construction.

Housing and Construction

In January 2012, my Department launched the housing and construction theme on the red tape challenge website. We received an excellent response of over 200 comments on the website and through private submissions. Of the 206 regulations on which we consulted, and following a rigorous challenge process, we propose to scrap 68 and amend or improve 32. These figures, which represent a 49% reduction or improvement in the regulatory landscape, come alongside a package of other measures proposed in response to public feedback and discussion with external partners. Details have been placed in the Library of the House.

As a result of the red tape challenge, we have already launched a fundamental review of the building regulations framework and voluntary housing standards. This aims to significantly rationalise the large number of codes, standards, rules, regulations and guidance that add unnecessary cost and complexity to the house-building process.

In addition to this, we will be:

Working with industry on developing simple guides to help builders understand what they have to do to meet building regulations requirements.

Reviewing and improving guidance for tenants and landlords.

Looking into enabling local authorities to provide building control services across local authority boundaries.

Planning administration

Today we are also launching the planning administration theme of the red tape challenge. This is intended to make the mechanics of the planning system more efficient and accessible.

This review is not making any changes to planning policy. The Government are committed to ensuring that countryside and environmental protections continue to be safeguarded, and is committed to decentralising power over planning to local councils, neighbourhoods and local residents.

We have already taken a series of steps to cut unnecessary red tape, such as the streamlined national planning policy framework reducing 1,000 pages of planning guidance to less than 50, revoking the last Administration’s bureaucratic regional strategies (subject to the outcome of the ongoing environmental assessment process) and increasing permitted development rights to make it easier to get empty and underused buildings back into public use.

Alongside the current review of planning practice guidance following Lord Taylor’s report, the red tape challenge on planning administration will give everyone the opportunity to highlight areas where the system can be made simpler, clearer and easier for people to use and also let us know where regulation is essential.