Fire safety update: Approved Document B 2019

An updated version of Approved Document B – the government’s guidance for how to meet the requirements of Building Regulations 2010 – has been published. It includes guidance for demonstrating that new buildings meet the required standards of fire / life safety.

New government guidance has implications for new building fire safety in England and Scotland.

From a cladding perspective, the headlines in England, as introduced under the November 2018 regulatory ban, are as follows:

  • Regulatory restrictions apply to the external walls of certain buildings with sleeping accommodation over 18m. The buildings within the scope of this restriction include: hospitals, dormitories, student accommodation, sheltered housing and apartment blocks.
  • All significant external wall materials on the building types listed above must essentially be non-combustible (i.e, European Class A2-s1, d0 or Class A1).
  • The restrictions do not apply to hostels, hotels, boarding houses, commercial buildings, or any buildings below 18m. However, the commercial and reputation implications of using combustible cladding materials need to be carefully considered.  

The situation in Scotland is more robust. A ban on combustible cladding materials will apply to buildings with a storey height above 11m, both to domestic and non-domestic properties and comes into force on 1 October 2019.

TFT has experience of navigating this evolving situation, including the coordination of cladding safety investigations and remedial works.

Please contact Simon Young for more details.

TFT chairs RICS Dilapidations Conferences in Scotland and England

TFT Technical Partner Jon Rowling recently chaired the RICS Dilapidations Conference, Scotland. Jon is jointly based in TFT’s Edinburgh and London offices and heads TFT’s Dilapidations, Service Charge and Dispute Resolution service lines nationally. 

The event covered pressing issues for our UK clients, including: comparisons between Scots law and England and Wales; a mock cross-examination which highlighted why one wouldn’t want to get as far as litigation; and accession of movable items and fixtures.

Of the nuanced and challenging issues facing tenants and landlords, of great importance for both sides will be to avoid litigation procedures, which can be done with the right approach to dispute resolution.

Jon authored the go-to text book on these matters: The TFT Purple Book, which offers guidance and reference to make the right decisions through the process. Jon has also authored the RICS Dilapidations Guidance Note and the Dilapidations Dispute Resolution Scheme. He also chaired the London edition of the RICS Dilapidations Conference from 2010 to 2014.  Since then the event has been chaired by TFT Partner Paul Spaven

With Jon Rowling as the service line lead, TFT leads the way in dilapidations across the UK, while in Scotland our Expert Determination and Dispute Resolution offerings are gaining notable traction.

Neil Wotherspoon, TFT Partner and head of the Edinburgh office

Please do get in touch with either Jon or Neil if you would like any assistance with a dilapidations issue.

Scottish property: foundations for growth

2019 promises exciting developments for Scotland’s property market, off the back of multiple findings suggesting the region’s potential for investment and development.

Scottish property outperformed its five-year average in 2018, as commercial investment reached £2.5bn thanks to increased involvement by some big UK funds and continued high interest by overseas investors. Mid-year, Scotland was found to be the best performing market in the UK, growing by 5.6% compared to Wales’ 4.4% and England’s 3.7% growth over the same period.

The upshot of increased investment is a set of development projects which look to usher in a new era for Scottish urban life. Cultural centres, retail units and residential property are all springing up to meet a demand for a higher standard of amenities in the region. This is especially true for major centres like Edinburgh, in which ambition and performance of building projects currently underway could set a precedent for future development around the country.

Two years of progress on the TFT monitored Edinburgh St James development

The highest profile of these is the Edinburgh St James redevelopment. Located in the heart of Scotland’s capital, between Calton Hill and St Andrew Square, the project has an opportunity to combine culture and commerce for the benefit of occupants and visitors, driving the long-term success of owners and investors.

The scheme comprises a world-class retail, leisure, hotel and residential offer, including Scotland’s first W Hotel, first boutique Everyman Cinema, a flagship John Lewis department store and 150 apartments offering unrivalled amenities and views across the city.

TFT’s role as Project Monitors on Edinburgh St James is to ensure the planning, design and construction of the development proceeds by resolving challenges at an early stage and by protecting the budget and timescale of the work. In major works like this, that role is crucial given extensive excavation and replacement of existing infrastructure in and around the site, and working around an open department store – John Lewis – without disruption.

And it’s not just retail, leisure and residential sites which are pointing towards growth. TFT’s Edinburgh office is working on a combined 376,705 square feet of major office schemes on behalf of Legal and General in in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The skills to navigate these challenges will only be more in demand as development continues around Scotland – whether it’s in a busy city centre, redeveloping older sites, or breaking ground in a new site, careful management of the project will be crucial to maximising its success.

On a recent site visit, we saw the major changes afoot, and the new St James centre taking shape. With Scotland’s national growth also looking strong for the future, we’re excited to guide subsequent works that drive its success.

Diversity and inclusion set the agenda at the Scottish Property Federation’s annual dinner

Last week the great and good of the Scottish property industry convened in Edinburgh for the seventh annual dinner hosted by the SPF (Scottish Property Federation). As proud sponsors of the event, and supporters of the SPF since the launch of our Edinburgh office, we were excited to hear a set of great speakers discuss the pressing industry issues we face.

With the annual change of Federation leadership, we heard from SPF’s incoming chairman Miller Mathieson (MD of CBRE Scotland & Northern Ireland) on his priorities for the year ahead. We were glad to hear his intention to support and challenge the Scottish government on property legislation, and to hear his ambition for promoting diversity within the industry.

As we know, our industry workforce isn’t as diverse as it could be to represent all the people who use the buildings and places we create. Whether it’s gender balance, ethnic diversity or openness to LGBTQ+ communities, encouraging people from all backgrounds to share under-represented perspectives can only enrich the industry and, ultimately, help us build a better world.

But how we do we achieve that here and now? Baroness Karren Brady spoke directly from her own experience when she took to the stage after dinner. From steering Birmingham City FC out of administration as MD – aged just 23 – to becoming one of the UK’s most respected business leaders, Baroness Brady spoke of the vision and ambition which drove her success. Her message to women in the industry was to embrace positivity and self-confidence in the workplace, and to be tenacious in making a change.

However, individual efforts must also be underpinned by a community which shares and promotes diverse values. Examples within our industry include: Freehold, the LGBTQ+ community set up jointly by TFT Partner David Mann, and TaylorWessing’s Saleem Fazal; Real Estate Balance, the senior leadership roundtable for implementing gender equality initiatives; and BAME in Property, the organisation bringing ethnicity to the property industry.

Businesses and industry bodies must also continue to champion diversity and instil it as a common feature in our daily business. To that end we fully support SPF’s decision to put this on the agenda for the year ahead.

We’ve all heard about uncertain times and the need to innovate for growth. With that in mind, the need for new perspectives and collaboration across the industry has never been more important! We look forward to supporting the SPF in its efforts to progress diversity and inclusion across our industry, and for all the advantages that will bring.

TFT Dilapidations Flowcharts – Scotland

The latest Dilapidations Flowcharts – Scotland are reproduced by TFT’s dilapidations specialists Jon Rowling and Neil Wotherspoon and attempt to identify the manner in which the law, as understood, and dilapidations procedure, as understood, are generally amalgamated in practice. To view the full set of flowcharts, click the link below.