Last edited 17 May 2021

Approved Document B


[edit] Introduction

The first set of national building standards was introduced in 1965. The 'building regulations' establish standards that have to be achieved in the construction of buildings. They set out:

The approved documents provide guidance for satisfying the requirements of the building regulations in common building situations.

Part B of the building regulations in England covers fire safety matters within and around buildings.

The approved documents to Part B are in two volumes. The most recent editions were published in January 2013 and came into effect in April 2013. They replaced Approved Document B (2006) which incorporated 2010 amendments. A new clarified version of Approved Document B was published in July 2019 (see below).

[edit] Amendments to statutory guidance on assessments in lieu of tests

On 28 July 2017, following the Grenfell Tower fire, then-Communities Secretary Sajid Javid MP announced an independent review of the building regulations and fire safety. For more information, see Independent review of the building regulations and fire safety.

In April 2018, the Ministry of Housing published a consultation paper which proposed limiting or stopping the use of desktop studies for assessing the fire performance of external cladding systems to strengthen fire testing for cladding systems on residential buildings.

The revisions contained in the consultation paper 'Amendments to statutory guidance on assessments in lieu of test in Approved Document B (Fire Safety)', were a result of the recommendations made by the interim Hackitt report published in 2017. Ref.

[edit] Updates

In July 2018, the government announced it was to launch a full-scale review of Approved Document B in the autumn of 2018 to clarify and reduce the complexity of fire safety guidance in the Building Regulations following the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said; "Dame Judith’s report sets out the right framework to improve safety but I will not hesitate to go further than the recommendations where I deem it necessary. That is why I am going further than my original commitment to simply clarify the guidelines, by commencing an end-to-end technical review of the fire safety aspects of building regulations in the autumn.”

Changes to the approved document came into force on 21 December 2018 and can be seen at: Changes to approved document B following the Hackitt review.

The government launched a call for evidence for the technical review of approved document B on 18 December. Ref

The consultation closed on 1 March 2019.

In April 2019 paragraph 12.8 was amended.

[edit] New clarified Approved Document B

On 5 July 2019, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published a New clarified Approved Document B. The changes this introduces are intended to ensure that the document uses plain English, and it has also been significantly restructured with the design of blocks of flats moved from Volume 2 to Volume 1:

Circular 02/2019, describes the amendments in detail, although no new policy has been introduced.

An MHCLG spokesperson said: “This refreshed text provides clear guidance for building owners to ensure they meet our regulations so there is no misunderstanding of their responsibility for residentssafety... We will shortly set out our next steps for the guidance following our call for evidence last year.”

The new approved documents come into force on 30 August 2019.

In September 2019, both volumes were removed due to potential errors relating to the provision of dampers fitted to the vents of smoke shafts. In October the documents were corrected and reinstated.

On 27th November 2019, after a challenge to the consultation process that introduced the ban, the High Court ruled that the consultation had been inadequate in respect of the inclusion of products intended to reduce heat gain within a building (for example, blinds, shutters and awnings) within the ban. As a result the Court quashed one part of the 2018 regulations which had included within the ban ”a device for reducing heat gain within a building by deflecting sunlight which is attached to an external wall”. The practical effect of the Court judgment is that the regulations now exist as if that section of the regulations had never been included in the ban. Ref

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