Building Standards Futures Board minutes: February 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 14 February 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Craig Hatton (CH) Chair, Chief Executive of North Ayrshire Council
  • James Whiteford (JW), Delivery Model Hub Director, Fife Council
  • Alan McAulay (AMc), Delivery Model Hub Director, Fife Council
  • Steve Fawcett (SF), Homes for Scotland
  • Robert Toomey (RT), RICS
  • Robert Nicol (RN), COSLA
  • Colin Proctor (CP), Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)
  • Robert Storey (RS), SER
  • Gordon Nelson (GN), FMB
  • Nigel Kerr (NK), Fife Council
  • John-Paul Breslin (JPB), LABSS
  • Lynsey Brydson (LB), Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST)
  • Neil Mitchell (NM), Scottish Government
  • Stephen Garvin (SGa), Scottish Government
  • Linda Stewart (LS), Scottish Government
  • Frank Doherty (FD), Scottish Government
  • Colette Templeton (CT), Scottish Government
  • Ken Craig (KC), Scottish Government
  • Sarah Waugh (SW), Scottish Government
  • Fiona Sinclair (FS), Scottish Government


  • Mark Lawler (ML), SER
  • Dave Aitken (DA), LABSS
  • Graham Martin (GM), RIAS
  • Stephen Good (SG), Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST)
  • Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland (CS)
  • Pamela Balfour (PB), Dundee City Council
  • Cameron Murdoch (CM), Scottish Government
  • Steven Scott (SS), Scottish Government

Items and actions

Note of meeting on 20 October 2022 and action points paper 66 (14/02/2023)

The note of the previous meeting was approved by the Board.

Action points paper 66

  • construction Scotland to arrange a meeting with John Paul Breslin to look at options on how to increase interest and diversity within the construction sector. To be followed up after the meeting
  • BSD to provide the Chair with a list of authorities currently supporting Modern Apprenticeship positions for building standards – the Chair raised this to help promote numbers It was discussed that it’s really important to ensure there are adequate numbers so colleges can run the course. The need to promote these courses was stressed
  • BSD to consider an early adopters scheme as a test and feedback opportunity – this is being taken forward later in 2023


Construction Leadership Forum and Transformation Subgroup

CP provided an update.

The Forum is continuing to progress and is meeting at the end of February 2023.

The Construction Accord is progressing and the Transformation Board which comprises of the Chairs under each of the Working Groups met last week. There are still available places on the Group to be filled with the development of an action plan by summer 2023.

The Construction Quality Improvement Collaborative (CQIC) ran an event that was well attended. A website for CQIC is now available which includes a portal for Building Standards work. More events will be arranged in the future. SGa attended the Quality Initiative Launch Steering Group, it was discussed that there is a need to continue to liaise on this matter.

The meeting discussed Modern Method of Construction (MMC) and the impact it may be having on the construction of schools. CP confirmed that MMC was being considered by the CQIC Working Groups, but there is a need to look at how demand is shaped, particularly on housing.

Building Standards

SGa provided an update.

The Scottish Government budget has been published combining both Building Standards and the Cladding Remediation Programme. The Cladding Remediation Unit is now a separate division with a Deputy Director now appointed. Budget for BSD is currently tight, however BSD are committed to the work of the Futures Board (FB). Headcount within BSD over recent years has increased but staffing levels, to deliver the work, is a current issue.

A change of energy standards came into effect on 1 February aimed at removing around 32% of carbon emissions from new build homes and around 20% from non-domestic buildings. Preparation for new build heat standards and phasing out of fossil fuels for heating is underway with new regulations coming into effect from March 2024. There is a strong focus on building fabric efficiency and moving towards energy targets.

Guidance on the requirements for electric charging vehicle points for all new buildings and those subject to 'major renovation' will come into force from 5 June 2023. 

The Crown Office fatal accident enquiry on the fire at Cameron House Hotel was published in January 2023 with multiple recommendations. A Short Life Working Group is being established to take forward these recommendations.

The Building Standards Resilience Liaison Group, set up during Covid is being reformed as the Building Standards Stakeholder Group and will be used to build relations with a wider range of stakeholders from across the construction sector. The first meeting takes place in the week beginning 20 February 2023 with future meetings being held quarterly. There will be no conflict of work of the Stakeholder Group and the work of the Futures Board.

NK asked about changes to technical standards regarding fossil fuels and if any issues surrounding the capacity of the electricity grid have been highlighted? SGa advised that issues have been raised and are being considered by relevant policy teams in Scottish Government.

The Chair welcomed the formation of the new stakeholder group. Scottish Government budget pressures are a concern and there is a need to ensure that the FB Programme has sufficient resource. Discussions on this will be picked up later on the agenda.

Verification Delivery Model work stream: paper 67 (14/02/2023)

NM delivered Paper 67.

Background on the Delivery Model work stream and recommendations made by the Expert Review Panels confirming the need for a central Building Standards Hub (BSH) to support local authority (LA) verifiers was highlighted. Responses from the 2018 public consultation also saw 69% of people agreeing that a central Hub should be provided.

A 6-month update report on a business case for a BSH was presented to the DMWG at its meeting on 1 February. The WG agreed the report and proposal for the report and recommendations be presented to the Futures Board at its February meeting.

Funding has become available to enable the Hub Pilot to be extended for 6 months to May 2024. Funding transfer will be actioned within the next few weeks. Fees Part 1 Research looked at the 2017 fees increase identifying the resources in the system and how funds have been spent. Fees Part 2 Research is currently underway and focusses on developing a flexible fee model for a strengthened building standard System and Hub. The final report is expected around the end of April 2023. The Board were advised that any changes in fees would be subject to public consultation. Proposals on the source of funding for a BSH is that funding will be met from building warrant fees as is part of the building standards system.

The Minister for ZCB, AT and TR and the DMWG will both be updated on the outcome and decision from today’s meeting.

BSD continue to work with LABSS, Fife Council, the DMWG and the Delivery Model Development Group (DMDG) to increase awareness of the Hub while continuing to update other key stakeholders such as COSLA and SOLACE who support the development of the BSH. COSLA officials will present an update paper on the progress of the Hub Pilot to its Environment and Economy Board on 03 March 2023.

The Board were made aware that a Change Management role may also be introduced to the Hub Pilot in the future.

An overview of the high-level risks was reported to the Board.  

Risks are manged in the workstream and are reported to both the DMDG and DMWG. The scoring for risk WS3 and P5 has been reduced. Risk P9 has been added due to the complexity of changing the back-office and fee systems in the eDevelopment portal. The eDevelopment team are aware of the intended changes to the building warrant fees.

NM advised the Board that Tom Barclay, previous Chair of the DMWG, has taken on the Critical Friend role. Tom has already met with the Hub Directors and will be reaching out to other stakeholders in due course.  

Delivery Model Hub – update

The Directors presented the Hub Business Case to the Board.

The aim of the presentation is to seek approval on recommendations from the DMWG for the creation of a BSH. At the DMWG meeting on 1 February, the Group considered the current Business Case Report (BCR) for the BSH as it has developed and been informed by the first nine months of the Pilot Hub.

After consideration, the DMWG recommended that the BCR be tabled at the FB meeting to seek confirmation that the BCR describes the basis of the BSH, subject to the planned further refinement and development via Option Appraisal research and the ongoing work of the Group. There has been overwhelming support for the BSH from LAs, and stakeholders.

  • the Directors in their presentation covered the scope, capability, scale, hosting arrangements and financial details for a BSH. The preferred option would be a phased introduction through six business units
  • Operational Partnership
  • Scottish Type Approval Scheme
  • Technical and Procedural
  • Digital Transformation
  • Learning and Development

The potential structure of the BSH was shared with the Board and further information is provided in the BCR. The BCR includes information on costing for the building standards Hub and these were highlighted to the Board.

The presentation provided also detail on the capability of a building standards Hub with information on the Scottish Type Approval Scheme (STAS) and the development of a Fire Engineering Hub that will provide advice, expertise and help reduce the need for third party verifiers. Details were also provided on potential support for Structural Engineering as well as Digital Transformation and Learning and Development through the Learning and Development Manager role.

CT advised that the report on the Business Case for the establishment of a BSH is the first phase. Work has begun on developing a research specification that will take this report and develop the option for the BSH that will cover establishment and governance. It will also take forward the development of a full business case.

Following the presentation, the Board members asked that:

  • the phased rollout of the BSH over a number of years be reconsidered as establishing the full capability of Hub at the earliest would make the full range of building standards system services to support verifiers and stakeholders available sooner
  • the BSH should ensure that the necessary specialist support at the appropriate professional levels be provided
  • fire engineering specialist resource should be appointed sooner than outlined in the report
  • the BCR be developed/shaped into a business case that can be presented to strategic leaders and Scottish Ministers

The Board subsequently agreed that the BSH as described in the BCR and as presented is the foundation of a BSH and that planned further development via options appraisal research and next steps as outlined, should proceed.

A further progress update will be provided to the Board at a future meeting.

Work stream update February 2023: paper 68 (14/02/2023)

CT delivered Paper 68 providing an update on the work streams not covered by main papers at today’s meeting. The RAG status measuring progress on each is:

Compliance Plan Approach: RAG currently green.

Workforce Strategy: RAG currently green.

Certification Strategy: RAG currently red.

Verification Standard: RAG currently green.

Technical Strategy: RAG status has changed from amber to green.

Digital Transformation: paper 69 (14/02/2023)

FD delivered Paper 69.

The Digital Transformation work stream is being taken forward as part of the Scottish Government Digital Planning Programme where there has recently been a change of SRO. The programme has been extended for an additional year with final delivery 2026/27.

Progress across the work stream is being made and project work with BE-ST is moving into a new phase, with the commencement of six Building Standards specific projects.

The Civ-Tech challenge accelerator stage is now complete with a positive funding decision from the CivTech Funding Panel. Unfortunately, Hypervine, the commercial partner, have decided not to progress into the Pre-Commercial Agreement stage (PCA) citing that the CivTech PCA process is not a suitable fit for their business.

Work is continuing with BIM and Scottish Futures Trust. RVI research has also been concluded and guidance is now being developed through LABSS.

The Chair noted on behalf of the Board that it is important that building standards remains within the Digital Planning Programme and work needs to be undertaken to ensure that outcomes aren’t diluted.

Futures Board Risk Management paper 70 (14/02/2023)

CT presented the risk paper to the Board. 

Two risks have been downgraded.

Risk 1 and Risk 4 to reflect the end of the financial year and also the extension of contractor for the Digital Transformation Team Leader. Both Risks will be reassessed as we move into the next financial year.

The Chair noted his concerns that resource remains a critical issue and to deliver the change required to the building standards system requires certainty going forward. The FB was established to deliver change following a number of building failures and it is important that senior staff are reminded of this to ensure that resources are secured.  

The Board agreed that the Chair should write to the Building Standards Minister to make clear their concerns. 

Action: Chair to write to the Building Standards Minister.

Any other business

Dates of 2023 meetings:

  • 09 May 2023 – via Teams
  • 15 August 2023
  • 14 November 2023


BSD to update the Minister and DMWG following today’s meeting

BSD/Hub to develop a research specification to support the establishment of a building standards Hub. This will include consideration of constitution, governance and development of a full business case

Hub to give consideration to:

  • the proposed phased rollout of the Hub
  • the necessary specialist support at the appropriate professional levels be provided
  • fire engineering specialist resource appointed sooner
  • BCR be developed/shaped into a business case format that would be suitable for presentation to strategic leaders (will be taken forward as in action 1)

Progress update on the BSH will be provided to the Board at a future meeting

Chair to write to the Building Standards Minister

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