Commercial Building Regulations UK

Last Updated on 7 July 2023 by Editorial Team

Do building regulations apply to commercial buildings in the UK?

Are you planning to build or make alterations to a commercial property in the UK? Perhaps you read our recent article on the latest commercial design trends and it’s inspired you to make some changes to your building. If so, you need to be aware of the commercial building regulations that are in place within the UK. These regulations are put in place to ensure that commercial properties are safe, secure, and fit for purpose.

Commercial establishments, such as office spaces, retail stores, and industrial factories, must also comply with these regulations. Enforcement of these standards is carried out by local authorities, which have the power to conduct audits and issue enforcement notifications in situations of non-compliance.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about commercial building regulations in the UK.  So from planning permission to fire safety, we will cover it all.

Commercial Planning Permission

Before commencing with the construction of a commercial building in the UK, it is imperative to obtain planning permission, which is a legal requirement. Failure to do so could result in monetary fines, legal entanglements, and even the demolition of the structure in some cases. So here are the key details to bear in mind regarding the procurement of planning permission:-

When is planning permission required? 

Planning permission is not a prerequisite for all commercial building initiatives. Generally, it is mandatory to secure planning permission for the following actions:-

  • Building a new commercial property
  • Extending an existing commercial property
  • Modifying the function of a commercial property
  • Adjusting the appearance of a commercial property

If your project falls under any of these classifications, you must secure planning permission prior to commencing work.

How to apply for planning permission

In order to seek planning permission, you must file an application with your local planning authority. This submission must include comprehensive designs and diagrams of the proposed development, as well as information regarding how the project will impact the local vicinity.

Then, the planning authority will evaluate your submission and determine whether or not to grant permission.

How long does it take to get planning permission?

The period for obtaining planning permission varies according to the project’s intricacy and the planning authority’s workload. Typically, the process takes 8 to 13 weeks, but complex projects can take longer.

Commercial Building Regulations UK

After obtaining planning permission, you must comply with the commercial building regulations in the UK. These regulations aim to ensure that buildings are secure, energy-efficient, and accessible. The following are the essential points regarding building regulations:-

What are building regulations? 

Building regulations encompass a collection of criteria that all new buildings and significant renovations in the UK must meet.  Put simply, these standards cover a wide range of topics, from structural stability to fire safety, and they are established to safeguard the welfare and safety of the building’s occupants.

Who enforces building regulations? 

Your local building control authority, which can be either your local council or a private building control entity, enforces these regulations.  Therefore, you must inform your building control authority of your building project, and they will evaluate the work at various stages to ensure that it adheres to the building regulations.

What are the main areas covered by commercial building regulations?

Building regulations cover a wide range of areas in commercial properties in the UK, including:-

  • Structural stability
  • Fire safety
  • Ventilation
  • Drainage and waste disposal
  • Access and facilities for disabled people
  • Energy efficiency
  • Sound insulation

Each of these areas has specific requirements that you will need to meet in order to comply with the commercial building regulations in the UK.

How do you comply with commercial building regulations?

In order to satisfy the UK commercial building regulations, you must adhere to the approved documents that outline the demands and requirements for each area. These documents provide guidance on how to meet the regulations and the benchmarks that must be achieved.  Furthermore, your building control authority can also provide suggestions and assistance to facilitate your compliance with the regulations.

commercial building screwfix UK
Commercial building regulations apply to all retail buildings in the UK

Health and Safety

As the owner of a commercial property, it is your responsibility to guarantee the well-being and safety of all individuals who use your building.  In summary, this encompasses your workers, clients, and any member of the public. Here is some important information regarding health and safety regulations that you should be aware of:-

What are the health and safety regulations for commercial properties?

There are a number of health and safety regulations that apply to commercial properties in the UK.  For instance, these include:-

Specifically, each of these regulations has exact requirements that you will need to meet to ensure the health and safety of everyone using your building.

How do you ensure health and safety in your commercial property? 

To ensure the health and safety of everyone in your commercial property, you will need to take a number of steps. For example, these may include:-

  • carrying out a risk assessment to identify potential hazards
  • implementing measures to control or eliminate risks
  • providing training and information to employees and other users of the building
  • regularly reviewing and updating your health and safety policies and procedures

Additionally, it’s crucial to maintain your building properly and address any potential hazards promptly. This can help prevent accidents and injuries, as well as protect you from liability.

Fire Safety in Commercial Buildings

Fire safety regulations are crucial to ensure the safety of people who use your commercial building.  So in order to comply with fire safety regulations in the UK, you need to know the following:-

What are the fire safety regulations for commercial properties? 

The main fire safety regulation for commercial properties in the UK is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This regulation sets out the responsibilities of the building owner in relation to fire safety, and outlines the measures that must be put in place to protect against the risk of fire.

How do you comply with fire safety regulations? 

In order to comply with fire safety regulations in your commercial building in the UK, you will need to do the following:-

  1. Conduct a fire risk assessment to identify potential fire hazards in your building.
  2. Put in place measures to prevent fires from starting and spreading.
  3. Install appropriate fire detection and alarm systems.
  4. Ensure that all escape routes are clearly marked and accessible.
  5. Provide adequate fire extinguishers and other fire-fighting equipment.
  6. Train your employees and building occupants in fire safety procedures.
  7. Regularly review and update your fire safety policies and procedures.

Subsequently, by complying with these regulations, you can help prevent fires and ensure that everyone in your building is safe in the event of a fire.

Commercial Building Regs UK – FAQs

Q1. Do commercial building regulations apply to all types of commercial properties in the UK?

Yes, commercial building regulations apply to all types of UK commercial properties, including offices, shops, and warehouses.

Q2. Do I need to obtain planning permission for minor alterations to my commercial property?

It depends on the nature of the alterations. Minor alterations, such as changing the interior layout of your property, may not require planning permission. However, if the alterations involve significant changes to the exterior of the building or the use of the building, you may need to obtain planning permission. Your local planning authority will be able to provide advice on whether planning permission is required.

Q3. Can I make changes to my commercial property without complying with building regulations?

No, you must comply with the building regulations when making changes to your commercial property in the UK. Failure to comply with building regulations can result in fines and legal action, as well as putting the safety of your employees and customers at risk.

Q4. Who is responsible for ensuring that building regulations are complied with?

As the owner of the commercial property, you are responsible for ensuring that building regulations are complied with.  Additionally, you may need to hire a building control inspector to oversee the work and ensure that it meets the necessary standards.


In summary, It is crucial to comply with commercial building regulations in the UK to ensure the safety of all building users, as well as to fulfill your legal and financial obligations. Therefore, by familiarising yourself with the applicable regulations and ensuring that any alterations or updates to your property meet them, you can guarantee that they are secure, lawful, and in compliance.

If you are uncertain about your duties under the UK commercial building regulations, then you should seek guidance from a qualified building control inspector or your local building control authority.

Need help complying with commercial building regulations?

If you require assistance with any aspect of the design and build of your brand new commercial building, or need help with the re-design or refurbishment of an existing space within a commercial property, then we can help!  And we’ll help you to remain fully compliant with UK commercial building regulations.

We provide commercial design and build & renovation for property owners and landlords, and refurbishment works for commercial tenants.

We provide the complete package for your convenience including project management, build and fit out, together with the provision and installation of furniture, lighting, air conditioning systems and equipment.

Get in touch and we’ll be very happy to talk you through the services we provide and offer our advice and expertise on commercial design and build.

Call us for a chat on 0161 503 9075, or use our contact form to email us.  If you’d like to see what some of our customers have to say about our services, then you can read our reviews on Google.


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