22 Nov

Building Legislation

Every new building & renovation will have electric vehicle charging, but who will tell occupiers and buyers? 

Last month the Government’s national Net Zero Strategy included a focus on accelerating investment in infrastructure to facilitate a transition to electric vehicles. As part of that, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new legislation in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference yesterday.

In short, all new buildings must have electric vehicle charging. The requirement will apply to new homes and to non-residential buildings such as offices and supermarkets. It will also apply to buildings undergoing large-scale renovations that leave them with more than 10 parking spaces.

It’s part of a bigger trend of quality of life & sustainability improvements being baked into developments that residents, occupiers and buyers might not know about.

As an agency supporting the communication for over 150 developments we’re particularly interested in how these changes are communicated. Our clients also include RAW Charging and The UK Green Building Council.

In our office, announcements like this are big news.

The bad news

These changes are normally driven by a change in the public’s expectations. Sometimes it can be a shock or disaster; like Grenfell Tower. Other changes are slower and more representative of social evolution e.g. changes to broadband. What they have in common is that it starts with a public majority being dissatisfied with the current conditions. This dissatisfaction normally builds into public pressure through the mainstream media (TV and newspapers) and more recently through social media. What this means, in simple terms, is when conditions are bad there are a lot of people talking about it. 

The boring news

What follows is the political and legal process that leads to a change in policies like building regulations (as set out in the Building Act 1984). This has to pass through five or six parliamentary stages. Even after legislation has been discussed, amended and ‘ping-ponged’ it cannot take effect until 90 days after a bill has been passed by a two-thirds majority. We wouldn’t normally talk about the political process because too many people simply switch off.  However, switching off means the dissatisfied majority don’t follow the problem and forget that it’s being solved.

The building news

Once it does take effect, it’s up to property developers to put it into practice. Processes have to change, new products have to be found and construction teams need to be trained. Additionally, new legislation often only applies to new developments or newly renovated buildings, so it’ll be a while until people start to see these changes taking place.

Once the public have become dissatisfied, the legislation has passed and the changes have come into effect almost everyone has lost interest. There’s a good chance that these improvements, that are technically new, haven’t been an issue in the public eye for years. But, it is important for developers to remember they are still an issue. It’s just that, like rain on bank holidays or late trains, the public have become so used to the problem they assume it’s part of normal life and stop trying to look for the alternative.

Developers too, who have been following the issues for years, become so familiar with the issue they don’t remember to shout about it. 

And so, there it is. The public with a long-standing problem; new developments with a baked-in solution and still no-one talking about it.

The good news – The solution is simple. 

Don’t assume occupiers and buyers know about improvements to legislation and make sure they don’t assume important issues are still a problem.

Our advice is, if you’re a property developer, next time (or this time) legislation changes, make sure you communicate it to your audience. Tell occupiers & buyers what you’re doing and use this as an excuse to tell them ALL of the features of your building or development, even if it feels like old news.

Drop the office an email to find out how we can help you with your communication needs.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_regulations_in_the_United_Kingdom#History_and_timeline_of_changes, https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/uk-require-charge-points-electric-vehicles-new-buildings-2021-11-21/, https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/amendments