Planning and Environment Law

Planning law plays a key role in development. Building standards are laid down in the Building Regulations. See our guides in relation to the planning process, planning bodies, planning development conditions and building regulations. These are in our Commercial Property Guide, which is available on our website

An Environmental Impact Assessment is required for development projects of a certain size or type. There are certain types of project for which an EIA is mandatory. There are other projects where the local planning authority can decide to require an EIA.

Health and Safety in Construction

There are extensive health and safety obligations in the construction industry. The health safety and welfare rules impose duties on most persons involved in construction projects. This includes clients, designers and contractors. Construction must not start until the principal contractor has prepared a written health and safety plan for the construction phase.

The regulations require notification of constructions projects to the Health and Safety Executive. A notifiable project is one which is expected to last more than 30 days or involve more than 500 worker days.

Skips and Scaffolding

Permission is required from a local authority to place a skip on a road. There are restrictions and rules on the size, location, marking and use of a skip.

It is necessary to obtain a local authority licence to erect scaffolding.


Waste is tightly regulated.  It is an offence to process waste without the requisite licence.

There must be a construction site waste management plan. This must contain certain requirements proposals and procedures for dealing with and disposing of waste.

The handling of hazardous waste is regulated. There are notification obligations and documentation is required. If hazardous waste is stored, produced or transported, it is necessary to register the premises with the Environmental Agency. Smaller businesses are exempt.  Consignments of hazardous waste must be accompanied by a consignment note. Hazardous waste must not be mixed.

Energy performance certificates are required when buildings are sold or let.


The Architects Registration Board (ARB) regulates the architectural profession in the UK. To use the title ‘architect’, a person must be appropriately qualified and registered with the ARB. The ARB has the power to take action against anyone that misuses the title. All architects registered with the ARB must also comply with the Architects Code.

The main professional bodies are the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) and the Royal Society of Architects in Wales (RSAW).

Membership of a trade body is not mandatory but a large proportion of architects are members of one or both – for example, Scottish architects can be members of both RIAS and RIBA. Members of these bodies must abide by codes of practice. For more information:

Architectural technologists that are fully qualified members of the British Institute of Architectural Technologists (BIAT), are permitted to practise on their own. Architectural technicians are only allowed to work in support of other architectural professionals.

Members of BIAT must also comply with a code of conduct and have adequate professional indemnity insurance.


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