Architects welcome ‘important’ new guidance for site inspections

Oxgangs school
The collapsed wall at Oxgangs Primary School in Edinburgh

New interim guidance published by the Scottish Government for site inspection in the public sector has been described as “a positive step” by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

Issued yesterday in the wake of the Cole report, which followed an independent inquiry into the closure of 17 Edinburgh schools over construction faults, the guidance requests that contracting authorities engaged in construction must make appropriate arrangements for the independent inspection of construction activities.

Seventeen schools in Edinburgh were closed last year over safety concerns after a wall collapsed in Oxgangs School.

Inspections and the subsequent Cole report revealed widespread and fundamental failings across the construction process across Scotland, with a warning that many other buildings could be at risk.

The Scottish Government said its new ‘Interim guidance for site inspection and assurance on behalf of public sector clients’ stresses how important it is that public sector clients maintain an appropriate level of independent oversight of building projects - ensuring work meets the specification and standards required.

This includes appropriate site inspections with further best practice guidance currently being developed.

The RIAS, which has been working closely with the Scottish Government to improve the procurement and public safety regime for construction in Scotland, said the interim guidance “clearly notes the need for appropriate inspection regimes across all forms of procurement”.

It added: “The RIAS is looking forward to developing further policy, procedures and guidance with the Scottish Government in due course to the benefit of the Scottish public. This will help to ensure a construction procurement regime which is focussed on public safety and delivering quality in all aspects of Scotland’s built environment.”

RIAS President Stewart Henderson PRIAS said: “The Scottish Government is keenly aware of its responsibility to ensure that our built environment is safe, attractive and delivers quality places for Scotland’s people. This Interim Guidance Note acknowledges that architects and our co-professionals are key to delivering this agenda. It is a very positive step.”

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