Article: United Kingdom
To help develop this article, click on EDIT above and start typing.
The term ‘United Kingdom’ (UK) refers to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It comprises the island of Great Britain, the north eastern part of the island of Ireland and a number of smaller islands. The UK is a sovereign state comprising four countries; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The capital city is London.
In addition, there are fourteen British Overseas Territories.
The UK is the world's sixth-largest economy.
In 2011, it had a population of 63 million, with 53 million in England, 5.3 million in Scotland, 3 million in Wales and 1.8 million in Northern Ireland.
 Central government
The UK has a parliamentary government based in London, but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved administrations that are based respectively in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
The range of powers that have been devolved are variable and complex, but in very general terms, they include:
- Health and social care.
- Education and training.
- Local government and housing.
- Agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
- The environment and planning.
- Tourism, sport and heritage.
- Economic development and internal transport.
The powers that remain the responsibility of the UK Government include:
- The constitution.
- International relations and defence.
- National security.
- Nationality and immigration.
- Nuclear energy.
- Employment and social security (apart from Northern Ireland).
 Local government
There are nine Government office regions in England, below which there are county councils, district councils and unitary authorities. There are then town or parish councils.
Scotland is divided into 32 council areas.
Wales is divided into 22 unitary authorities. Below these are community councils.
Northern Ireland is divided into 26 district councils.
In England, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) is responsible for the Building Regulations 2010 and The Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2010. The regulations apply to most new buildings and many alterations to existing buildings. Building Regulations approvals can be sought either from the building control department of the local authority or from an approved inspector.
In Scotland, Scottish Ministers are responsible for the Building Regulations (Building Standards) and associated guidance (ref The Scottish Government: Building Standards). The 32 local authorities administer the Building Standards system and are responsible for granting permissions (Building Warrants) and Completion Certificates.
In Wales, Building Regulations that previously applied to England and Wales continue to apply, but from 01 January 2012, any revisions to the English regulations apply to England only. New regulations and guidance in Wales are the responsibility of the Welsh government (ref Welsh Government: Building Regulations). Approvals are granted by the local authorities.
In Northern Ireland, the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 are made by the Department of Finance and Personnel (ref Building Control Northern Ireland). They are administered by the 26 District Councils.
In England, the Department for Communities and Local Government decides national planning policy and this is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. A schedule of the legislation that underpins planning in England can be found on the Planning Portal website. Responsibility for granting planning permission lies with local planning authorities (usually the planning department of the district or borough council).
In Scotland, primary planning law is established by The Town and Country Planning Act (Scotland) 1997 Chapter 8 as amended by The Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006. Local authorities and the national park authorities are responsibility for delivering planning services.
The Welsh government now has the power to create its own primary legislation and is preparing its own Planning Bill. A Planning White Paper will be published for consultation in 2013. The local planning authorities are responsible for determining planning applications in their area.
In Northern Ireland, the primary planning legislation is The Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991. Permissions are granted by the Department of the Environment Planning and Local Government Group following consultation with the district or borough council.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building Regulations.
- Construction industry statistics.
- Forest ownership.
- Localism Act.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- Planning permission.
- Public procurement.
- Statutory authorities.
- Statutory permissions.
 External references
- Schedule 5 to the Government of Wales Act 2006 (as amended May 2007 - March 2011).
- Cabinet office: Devolution in the United Kingdom.
- The Scottish Government: Building Standards.
- Welsh Government: Building Regulations.
- Building Control Northern Ireland.
- Planning Portal.
- Department for Communities and Local Government.