On 1 October 2023, the new building control regime for High Risk Buildings in England came into force, following Dame Judith Hackitt's review of Building Regulations and changes made by the Building Safety Act. The new regime in England puts in place a much stricter building control review process, fundamentally changing the way approval is granted.

This new stricter regime does not apply in Scotland. In January 2024, however, the Scottish Government announced a plan to develop a new "Compliance Plan Approach". On 02 April 2024, the Scottish Government then announced that they have launched an Early Adopters Scheme, to support the development of this new approach. The suggestion is that, if successful, new legislation will be introduced around 2025/26 to put the bring the approach into law.

The new approach, as in England, focuses at present on buildings classified as a High Risk Building ("HRB"). The Scottish Government's proposed definition for HRB is, however, wider than that in place in England and is defined as:

  • domestic buildings or residential buildings with any storey at a height of more than 11 metres above the ground
  • educational establishments (schools, colleges, and universities), community/sport centres
  • hospitals
  • residential care buildings

The proposed new approach for these HRB then centres on a "Compliance Plan" ("CP"). The Government explain that the CP is aimed at demonstrating that the duty imposed on the Relevant Person (usually the building owner or developer) is being managed robustly at the design and construction stages of a project, when certifying compliance with building regulations and when signing and submitting a completion certificate to deliver a compliant building.

The new approach therefore envisages a new professional role of CP Manager for all HRB building warrant projects who will work on behalf of Relevant Persons and produce a CP, in conjunction with the design team and contractor, in line with the guidance in the Compliance Handbook.

The CP will need to detail the measures that will be in place to control the work on-site, identify required inspection stages and collate the necessary evidence to deliver a compliant building.

The CP will then be submitted to the relevant local authority verifier for provisional agreement at a pre-warrant compliance and procedural assessment stage. It is then considered again at the building warrant application stage and, if content, the verifier will issue the CP with the approved building warrant. The CP must then be fully discharged before the verifier can accept a completion certificate.

Those familiar with the new regime in England will appreciate that this proposed approach has echoes of the new Gateway Regime now in place in England. Under this new regime the design for HRB in England requires to be approved by building control before construction can commence and the as built position then has to be approved before the building can be legally occupied.

It remains to be seen to what extent the Scottish Government will put similar compulsory hold points into law. If the CP became mandatory for all HRBs and legal hold points were to be put in place, then developers and contractors in Scotland will face the same difficult questions facing those in England. In particular how it impacts the programme and process for the design and construction of the HRB and to what extent it would require more upfront design, before works could commence.

For those interested in apply for the Early Adopter Scheme, the application form can be found here.


Amy Pairman

Senior Associate

Louise Shiels

Head of Dispute Resolution and Risk & Partner

Orla White

Trainee Solicitor