PR 05/16 | The Kamra tal-Periti urges Government to introduce building regulations that reflect contemporary needs

The Kamra tal-Periti welcomes the fact that many of its proposals submitted during the consultation period regarding the new Health & Sanitary Regulations were taken on board by the legislator. These included, in particular, its request that Planning and Development Control, which deals with issues of built form and layout, is clearly distinguished from Building Regulations and Control, which regulates the construction process itself and the qualitative performance of a building.

The Kamra hereby reiterates its position, however, that the very concept of sanitary regulations, which dates back to 1865, is archaic and was superseded by planning law and the tremendous advancement in construction technology and materials over the past 150 years. Today’s society is no longer concerned with the health matters prevalent in the Victorian period which the sanitary regulations sought to address. Rather, it is interested in addressing contemporary issues such as air quality within buildings, waste management, energy performance, thermal comfort, humidity, noise pollution, and mental health through appropriate building regulations and standards.

Moreover, the Kamra emphasises its position that building regulations should fall under the exclusive remit of the Building Regulation Office, and not the Planning Authority. The role of the two entities should be clear and distinct.The Kamra tal-Periti makes reference to its correspondence with government on this matter, and highlights its understanding that these new regulations are intended as an interim measure until they are replaced by adequate building regulations to address these matters. The Kamra therefore invites government to enter into discussions with the Kamra and all other relevant stakesholders in order to establish how the role of the Building Regulation Office can be strengthened to ensure that modern building regulations in line with European standards can be brought into effect.

This is of particular concern in the context of the several development permit applications for high-rise buildings and large-scale projects; expecting that high building and urban quality could be achieved by reduced clear internal heights, or by reduced backyard depths, is a dangerous route to take, since this will affect the building legacy of the future. The KTP reiterates its appeal to Government to reject lobbies seeking short-term benefits in favour of carefully thought through policies which safeguard the quality of the urban areas and the wellbeing of our communities for the future.