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'Common sense approach' proposed for school building regulations

08/11/2011 Joanna
Building regulations imposed on schools throughout England are to be relaxed, under new plans for the Department for Education (DfE).

Under the new proposals, schools will have the number of "confusing and unnecessary" regulations on building cut as the DfE seeks to slash the 5,000 pages of "irrelevant" guidelines currently issued to schools by 75 per cent.

As part of the ongoing independent Capital Review recommendations, government ministers are consulting on how best to simplify and reduce the regulations with a view to taking a more "common sense approach", while still providing safeguards for the best interests of pupils.

"Over the years, schools have been overloaded with unclear and sometimes contradictory rules on school buildings," said the schools minister Lord Hill.

"Making sure we have suitable and safe school buildings is paramount.

"That is why are proposing to streamline the regulations, remove unnecessary duplication and free up schools to take a common sense approach."

The DfE believes that many of the current regulations are "over-prescriptive and burdensome" and cutting them will make it easier and cheaper for schools to improve their buildings.

Examples of needless regulations currently required by law include complex lighting demands which govern the 'glare index' that lights are permitted to emit.

Conforming to this regulation is impossible without employing technical experts and the government intends to do away with such regulations, while ensuring schools still get specialist advice when needed.

Requirements related to the numbers of toilets and washbasins per pupil will also be relaxed, with the DfE proposing to demand well planned facilities without the current level of prescription.

Lord Hill said that while schools are already being built faster and more cost-effectively than ever, these changes will help further speed up and simplify the process.

The consultation on premises regulation is available to view on the department's website and includes the full list of proposed revisions. It closes on January 26th.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-800790049-ADNFCR
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