Last edited 12 Feb 2016

Public building definition

The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) consultation document, Display Energy Certificates: current regime and how it could be streamlined and improved, published in 2015, points out that EU countries define ‘public buildings’ in a number of different ways:

  • The Czech Republic, defines public as; all buildings that are not apartments or are non-residential.
  • Finland; those buildings which provide public services.
  • France; a building that is occupied by a governmental body.

The document proposes that in the UK, a narrow definition should be adopted:

  • A building that is: “occupied by a public authority and frequently visited by the public”.

It defines ‘frequently visited by the public’ as; “daily attendance during days of operation by people for purposes unrelated to their residence, employment, education or training.”

This means for example that a school used only as a school, is not a public building because it is not daily attended by people who are neither staff nor pupils. However, a school that is also used daily for community functions is a public building.

Public authority’ is defined in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as any body which, any other person who, or the holder of any office which:

  • Is listed in schedule 1 of the Act, (government departments, legislative bodies, the armed forces and so on), or
  • Is designated by the Secretary of State under section 5 of the Act, (because they appear to be carrying out functions of a public nature or are contracted to provide a service which is a function of a public authority) or
  • A publicly-owned company as defined by section 6 (such as a company wholly owned by the Crown).

See Public authority for more information.

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