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New Approved Documents

Posted on: September 28, 2022

Updated National Building Regulations in the U.K. came into force this year in June 2022. In addition to the changes to Part B, Part F, and Part L of the building regulations, there have been some changes to approved document B and two new approved documents, O (Overheating) and S (Infrastructure relating to charging electric vehicles). We’ve broken down what these changes mean to help guide you in understanding what you need to do to comply.

What is an Approved Document?

The new Building Regulations contain minimum requirements with which buildings in England and Wales must comply. Technical guidance documents are also published along with the Approved Documents to accompany each part of the Building Regulations, indicating how the requirements of that part can be achieved in practice.

Approved Documents contain guidance on how to meet these requirements. They include updates to Approved Documents Part F (Ventilation), Part L (Conservation of fuel and power), and the creation of a new Approved Document for Overheating (Part O) and Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles (Part S).

Furthermore, all new bungalows must have charging points for electric vehicles from June 2022.

In addition to these changes relating to energy efficiency, there will be updates to part B - Fire Safety.

Guidance on the various ways you'll need to meet the new building regulations is available in the recently published Building Regulations Pocket Book: Second Edition.

Are Approved Documents the Law?

Approved documents for building regs are given legal status by the Building Act 1984. However, you do not have to adopt the solutions presented in the approved documents. There are indeed alternative ways to remain compliant.

Updates to Approved Document B (Fire Safety)

An update to Approved Document B has been introduced with new standards for walls and balconies externally for new blocks of flats between 11 meters and 18 meters in height.

The updates to the statutory guidance set far higher standards on the limits of combustibility of materials used externally on walls of buildings.

Therefore, lowering the risk for developments between 11-18m and ensuring that the necessary safety standards are met while enabling the use of environmentally friendly materials.

The new guidance aims to balance human safety needs while allowing the use of more environmentally friendly materials.

The most recent updates to Approved Document B are an extension of the changes introduced to help improve building safety, including the presence of sprinklers in all new blocks of flats over 11 meters in height, which was introduced back in 2020.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendation implementation

These updates include changes following the evidence from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on the severe and tragic fire safety risks associated with materials such as Metal Composite Material panels with an unmodified polyethylene core, known as MCM PE

According to the Government website, additional recommendations following the Grenfell Inquiry include 'Phase 1 recommendations, to:

  • Introduce Secure Information Boxes for new buildings over 11 meters in height. A secure information box provides a secure facility to store information about a building for use by the fire service during an incident.
  • Guide evacuation alert systems in new buildings over 18 meters in height. Evacuation alert systems are an additional tool used by fire and rescue services instead of, or alongside, traditional methods of alerting residents to a change in evacuation strategy.

Editorial changes have also been made throughout the guidance to make it more transparent.

New Approved Document O - (overheating)

Unlike many other changes to the Building Regulations, Part O will be implemented retrospectively, irrespective of when a planning application was submitted or approved. So, for example, projects will need to have made significant progress in construction before June 15, 2023.

This 12-month transition period allows designers and developers to change planned projects to ensure they comply before their construction commences.

Buildings overheating is not a new problem. However, the UK government has failed to address the issue in the past, making this the first time.

The new Approved Document O outlines the overheating mitigation requirements of the new building regulations.

When designing and constructing buildings, the new regulations now address the prevention of unwanted solar gains in the summer and outline the need for an adequate means of removing excess heat from the indoor environment.

Part O applies to all residential and institutional dwellings, including care facilities, student accommodation, and anywhere you would spend the night (excluding hotels)—these range from single-story houses to high-rise blocks of flats.

How solar gains in buildings are managed will also be a new feature in the updated 2022 building regulations, specifically the new Part O.

New Approved Document S - Charging Electric Vehicles

Approved Document S - 'Infrastructure relating to the charging of Electric Vehicles' applies to the following types of building/works:

  • New residential buildings
  • New non-residential buildings
  • Structures undergoing a material change of use
  • Residential buildings undergoing major renovation*
  • Non-residential buildings undergoing major renovation*
  • Mixed-use buildings undergoing relevant building work

However, there are some exceptions. As a minimum, buildings undergoing these works will need the installation of a 7kW untethered EV charger or cable routes capable of providing supply. 7kW will give around 30 miles of range per hour of charging.

*Defined as being renovation work to a carpark within site, a change in the electric Infrastructure of a car park, or the electrical Infrastructure of a building with a car park inside.

Why are these additional regulations needed?

When drivers were asked why they wouldn't be going electric, a UK study revealed that a lack of infrastructure was a top concern.

37% of people said they were worried about a lack of fast charging points, while another 30% said the inability to charge the car at home prevented them from wanting to switch to electric.

Due to climate change, governments and manufacturers want to move away from Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. The UK plans to abolish the sale of all new cars using ICEs in 2030. Many leading car manufacturers have stopped producing ICE cars altogether or are offering pure-electric alternatives. Hence, we are starting to see a marked increase in the use of electric vehicles.

To ensure that consumers have the confidence to go electric, the new regulations should help to match infrastructure with ambition regarding EV technology.

Find out more about the new regulations in:

Building Regulations in Brief: 10th Edition

Building Regulations in Brief: 10th Edition

The most comprehensive and trusted guide reflecting the latest amendments to the Building Regulations, planning permission, and Approved Documents in England and Wales. 



Building Regulations Pocket Book: 2nd Edition

Building Regulations Pocket Book: 2nd Edition

Providing you with all the information you need to comply with the UK Building Regulations and Approved Documents whilst on the go.