Building control merger means better service
A merger between the Building Control services operated by Newark and Sherwood District Council and two neighbouring local authorities will improve the service and lower costs for service users and council tax payers alike, say council managers.
From April 1, Newark and Sherwood’s Building Control department will become part of the East Midlands Building Consultancy, established last year with the merger of the Building Control departments of South Kesteven District Council and Rushcliffe Borough Council.
Andy Statham, director – community for Newark and Sherwood said: “The merger will enable us to produce efficiencies due to economies of scale and will make our service more resilient and very responsive.”
Mr Statham said that reduced incomes for local authorities meant that there was a continuing need to increase efficiency and reduce costs. By pooling their resources, the three authorities could do this while at the same time providing a better service to the public.
“With reduced staff numbers our building control surveyors have been stretched at times, but the combined authority ‘hub’ at Grantham will be staffed continually, so there will be a team member there to respond to phone queries, check applications and reply to emails.”
At the same time, the council says that building regulation charges have been reduced, sometimes considerably reduced, and that new categories for some alterations will also bring costs down for customers.
Examples include charges for very small extensions – previously, the smallest category was for structures under 20 square metres with inspection charges of £490. Creating a new category for structures under six square metres – for small additions such as toilets or small extensions – brings the charge down to £240 under the combined service.
The reduced fees will partly be funded by charging clients the appropriate fee when the application is made, cutting out the cost of processing applications which may have subsequently been withdrawn and passed to the private sector.
“Building Control departments operate differently to other local authority departments as they are in competition with Approved Inspectors in the private sector,” said Mr Statham. “This merger will ensure that we provide an efficient, modern and competitive service.”
Newark and Sherwood building surveyors will still be based locally when not staffing the Grantham hub and same-day site inspections can be requested up to 2pm. Payments can be made by phone and an online payment facility will be available soon.