2 September 2019

It’s me again! The summer months are racing by, but the pace of activity doesn’t appear to slow like it once did in the good old days. However, that may just be because I’m getting older.

I referred a few Journals back to Harold Wilson’s famous phrase that ‘a week is a long time in politics’. Well, that rang true again as our new Prime Minister arrived at Number 10 and he certainly hit the ground running as far as putting a new Cabinet and Ministerial team in place.

It was, in part, out with the old and in with the new; however, there was still a meaningful amount of moving some of the current Ministers about and we also saw the return of a few old faces too. However, from our sector’s perspective it was all change at the MHCLG. We effectively have an entirely new Ministerial team, including a new Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Robert Jenwick. Given that he will have overall responsibility for housing and communities, including the Government’s response to the Grenfell tragedy, no doubt we will start hearing a lot more from our new Secretary of State. 

While Brexit and the countdown to 31 October continues to grab the National headlines, and is a subject I will no doubt return to here at another time, we saw MHCLG’s 192-page Building a Safer Future consultation draw to a close at the end of July. (We’ve now published CABE’s response to this hugely important consultation and] my thanks go out once again to our Richard Harral and all of the members that took the time to respond to our online consultation or attended one of the related workshops that were held.

We wait to hear the outcome of the consultation; however, that might be a little while as I’ve just heard on the grapevine that over a thousand responses were received by MHCLG. In the meantime, I have said it once, and I will say it again, I have no doubt that our sector is going to see truly fundamental changes as a response to Grenfell, and rightly so too. However, if anybody working in our sector still believes that this will not affect them then you are sorely mistaken. In the 30 years that I’ve been working in this sector, over half of which I spent serving Government, I’ve never seen anything quite like what is being proposed here and it will touch all aspects of the design, specification, procurement, construction and the ongoing operation of our buildings. In my opinion, the increasing focus on the need to demonstrate

competency, and the undertaking of CPD, will also effectively amount to the licensing of professionals to operate.
Talking of which, in late July CABE published our new Competency Framework and Disciplinary Procedures. If you follow CABE on Twitter @cbuilde, or even me on my presidential Twitter account (@CABEPres) you may already have seen it. We are committed to supporting our members throughout their career and, given the increasing focus on competency, we’ve undertaken a full review of our current frameworks to ensure they meet current sector expectations and are for fit the future. Please take the time to have a look at the documentation. Y

More than just mitigation

Once again, climate change remains in the news. Interestingly, much of the reporting focuses on the need to reduce our collective carbon emissions, so very much looking at it from a climate change mitigation perspective. However, some of the high levels of rainfall that fell across the country recently and the unfolding drama of the Whaley Bridge Dam highlighted yet again the important need for consideration to be given to the wider aspects of climate change ‘adaptation’ in both our new and existing built assets too.

As part of the current review of the energy efficiency aspects of the English Building Regulations currently underway they are also considering the issue of ‘overheating’, and not before time. However, how long before we need to relook at the issue of flood resilience, even to existing properties, and what ultimately might poorer air quality, higher winds, increased rainfall and summer grassland fires mean for our built assets? The Climate Change Committee published a further report in July entitled Progress in preparing for climate change - it makes sombre reading.Again, this is a subject that CABE will need to develop an agreed position on and so we shall soon return to the matter. 


As for the month ahead, I can report that I have an upcoming BRAC meeting to discuss the next full technical review of fire safety aspects of the English Building Regulations. Thereafter, I’m already looking forward to buildeng 2019 – Northern and Southern Ireland Conference and Exhibitionon 25 September. I can’t wait to join David Courtney, Joel Howson and the delegates for what looks like a great event.

Bye for now.




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