Ref NoL/THL/D/2
Alt Ref NoThese files were given their own reference number to be used within the Building Control and Planning Department. These reference numbers are recorded in the Alt_ Ref_Number field. The arrangement of these files has changed as part of a cataloguing project in progress from 2019-2020. Files that were catalogued prior to this have had their reference numbers changed, with the previous reference number recorded in the Alt_ Ref_Number field.
TitleRecords re Building Control
DescriptionScope and content:

The Building Control files are an important collection that can be used to understand the built environment of Tower Hamlets. They provide information about the development of new buildings, housing schemes, places of worship, public buildings such as schools and health centres, commercial or industrial premises, and dead and temporary buildings.

The files cover a varied period of time, with some spanning 100 years. Therefore alongside the physical geography, the files can be used to research businesses and industries within the borough. For example, Limehouse Town Hall was used as the National Museum of Labour History before serving as the Wapping Neighbourhood office, and 2 Approach Road was changed from a house in multiple occupation to provide a rehabilitation and convalescent home. In addition, some files provide information on war damage repairs including the works carried out and their cost.

A large part of this collection is made up of building and architectural plans and these provide information about both the internal and external structure and design of buildings.

The files contain documents required as part of Building and Planning works. These include but are not limited to:
- Correspondence
- Building notices
- Planning applications
- Works initial notices
- Works commencement notices
- Planning permissions
- Listed building planning permissions
- Dangerous structure notices
- Notices of irregularity
- War damage repairs
- Structural calculations
- Cost calculations
- Deposit of plans applications
- Building inspection reports
- Site inspection reports
- Works completed notices
- Works completed certificates
- Photographs
- Building plans

Glossary of terms:

Building Notice:
An application allowing work to be carried out without completion of full plans. Plans may, however, be requested.

Building Regulations:
The minimum standards for design, construction and alterations of a building.

Chief Planning Officer:
Lead planning officer at a local authority; they can sometimes be referred to as the head of planning.

Stipulations attached to a planning permission that controls or limits how a development is carried out.

Dangerous Structure:
Structures, buildings or parts of a building, garden walls, hoardings or fences which are a danger to the public because of their condition.

Design and Access Statement:
A document to explain the thinking behind and design principles of a planning application.

Detailed Application:
The most common type of planning application that seeks full/detailed planning permission. It should contain all information needed for the local planning authority to make a decision.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA):
A procedure to evaluate the impact a development can have on the environment, in order to ensure that decisions are made in full knowledge of any likely significant effects.

Fee Schedules:
A schedule of fees to be paid during the planning process.

Full Application:
An application for full planning permission with nothing reserved for later approval.

Full Plans:
An application that covers plans, specifications and if necessary structural calculations. Commercial developments can only be submitted under a Full Plan Application.

This is a legal requirement informing the local planning authority of when building works begin and other key stages, so that can inspection can be carried out. The inspection ensures that building works comply with the regulations.

Listed Building:
A building of architectural or historical interest that is given a grade and included on a statutory list. A building of this type requires permission for any work to be carried out because it is protected under the Planning Act.

Listed Building Consent:
This is a requirement necessary for any alterations or the demolition of a listed building.

Local Planning Authority:
The local authority authorised by law to carry out planning functions.

Mixed Use Development:
An area or site that is used for a range of purposes such as residential or community leisure uses.

Outline Application:
A general application for planning permission to establish that a development is in principle acceptable, subject to approval of detailed matters.

Outstanding Planning Permission:
Planning permission that is yet to be implemented.

Permitted Development:
Permission for minor or limited forms of development that do not require an application under the terms of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order.

Planning Obligation:
Under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), this is a legal agreement between a developer and planning authority, intended to make sure that extra works related to a development are undertaken.

Planning Permission:
The local authority is required to provide formal approval for most building developments.

Section 106 Agreement:
Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990) is in effect a legal agreement between the developer and council to make sure that additional works related to the development are undertaken.

Source of Information:
Since its creation in 1965 the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council has been responsible under law for the regulation of new buildings and changes to existing sites. In the 1970s this function came under the Building Control Service managed by the Planning and Building Control Department. The Service was and still is responsible for authorising and approving the construction of new buildings, changes of use, alteration or conversion of existing buildings and ensuring that they meet the minimum standards of safety.

Building regulations
Specific aspects of safety are covered by the National Building Regulations, which cover structural safety, means of escape, fire safety, access for fire-fighting, sound transfer between dwellings, ventilation, conservation of fuel and power, heat producing appliances, access to and the use of building and domestic electrical installations. The operation of the Regulations takes place in a competitive commercial environment as 'Approved Inspectors' are able to provide a paid service for those wanting to carry out building work. The Building Control Service also responds to reports of alleged dangerous structures, taking appropriate action to remove immediate danger to preserve public safety. Further to this, Building Control is responsible for the street naming and numbering of the Borough, ensuring that all premises are correctly addressed.

Applications for building regulation approval can be in two forms:

Building Enforcement Notice: this tends to cover submissions for smaller building projects. It can be supplemented by construction information and building calculations and technical details. A Building Enforcement Notice is inspected by a Building Control officer at regular intervals. At the completion of the works, a Building Completion Notice is issued, which confirms compliance with building regulations.

Full Plans Approval: this provides more detail at the application stage. A Full Plans Approval is dealt with by Building Control as and when submitted, and further conditions can be imposed on an Approval requiring more details that need to be submitted at a later date. A Building Commencement Notice must be submitted and the works are inspected at regular intervals by Building Control or an 'Approved Inspector' to ensure that the works are being carried out in line with the approval note and the conditions attached to the approval.

'Approved Inspectors' are required to provide the Council with copies of decisions reached, Building Commencement Notices and Building Completion Notices. This is to ensure that the information is recorded and passed on to Land Charges and other relevant records held by the Council.

The building regulation specifications and procedures are correct at the time of writing (May 2020).

Regulating building control prior to 1965:
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets inherited building control functions from a number of predecessor bodies. Each of these local authorities had different and varying degrees of power regarding building work, planning and development, housing and related functions.

The Metropolis Management Act 1855 created the Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW), a London-wide body that coordinated the construction and maintenance of the city's infrastructure through a series of 23 newly created vestries based on larger parishes and 15 district boards comprising groups of smaller parishes. Among the new vestries created by the 1855 Act were Poplar, All Saints, Limehouse and Whitechapel. The MBW was given some supervisory and coordinating powers over the vestries and district boards, which were made responsible for local drainage and for paving and lighting of streets, and it was given power to make, widen or improve streets and roads and to regulate the naming of streets and numbering of houses.

The Metropolitan Buildings Act 1855 gave the MBW power to appoint and dismiss district surveyors, to appoint a superintending architect of metropolitan buildings, and to modify the building regulations contained in the Act as might be necessary. The MBW's powers were extended through the introduction of several further Acts including:
- the Metropolitan Gas Act, 1860;
- the Thames Embankment Acts, 1862, 1863 and 1868;
- the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act, 1865;
- the Metropolitan Commons Act, 1866 (and subsequent amending Acts), and Acts relating to individual parks and open spaces;
- the Metropolitan Streets Act, 1867 (and subsequent Street Improvement Acts);
- the Metropolis Toll Bridges Act, 1877 (and other Acts relating to bridges);
- the Artizans Dwellings Act, 1875;
- the Public Entertainments Act, 1875.

When the MBW was replaced by the London County Council (LCC) in 1889 the district boards and metropolis local management vestries continued unaltered, but they in turn were abolished in 1900 by the terms of the London Government Act of the previous year. The boroughs created by that Act included the Metropolitan Boroughs of Poplar, Stepney, and Bethnal Green, which together covered virtually the same area as the district board of works had done. The LCC, alongside inheriting the responsibilities of the MBW, gained powers relating to city planning and council housing.

The LCC and the metropolitan boroughs were independent of each other and had complete jurisdiction over certain fields within their individual areas. There were, however, certain areas in which the LCC had full control and these were:
- sanctioning the raising of loans for housing, building, land purchase, street improvements and drainage;
- making byelaws (although the borough councils had to enforce the byelaws);
- approval of sewer plans;
- taking steps if the borough council was not fulfilling statutory obligations;
- control over grants.

The London Building Act 1894 gave the LCC responsibilities regarding the structure and material construction of buildings, building height (a limit of 80 feet was set), the amount of open space on the plot to be developed, the maintenance of party walls between two or more separate properties, temporary building, the formation, naming and numbering of streets, building and dangerous structures. The 1945 amendment to the Act included responsibilities regarding means of escape in case of fire, which ensured that the required minimum constructional and fire resisting standards applied to any building alterations and new buildings. Sites were inspected, and architects, surveyors and engineers were advised on a council's standards and when necessary recommended changes to be made. The Building Acts meant that it was necessary for the borough council to approve fire precautions and means of escape in the event of fire before construction could be started, and the Act of 1905 required submission by applicants for planning permission of relevant plans for inspection.

Developments and increasing transfer of powers since 1965:
Responsibilities under the Building Acts were passed on to the successor bodies when the LCC and metropolitan boroughs were dissolved. Through the passing of the Local Government Act in 1963, the Greater London Council (GLC) was established replacing the LCC. The London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council was created on 1 April 1965 under the same legislation, through the consolidation of the Metropolitan Boroughs of Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green.

The Local Government Act divided powers between the GLC and London borough councils. The boroughs were regulated by the Municipal Corporations Act 1882 and the Local Government Act 1933. Initially, the GLC had responsibility for the construction of houses and flats for council tenants, a function that was gradually transferred to the Borough Council from the mid-1970s. In 1986 the GLC was abolished, and any remaining relevant powers and active departmental registries of records were passed to the boroughs by the London Residuary Body (LRB). Non-current Building Act records and high-level decision-making in minutes were retained and transferred to the former GLC's Greater London Record Office (later known as the London Metropolitan Archives) managed the City of London Corporation.

Further Reading: [Last Accessed 14 May 2020] [Last Accessed 14 May 2020] [Last Accessed 14 May 2020]
Related MaterialThe wider history of building control in London and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets' formation from predecessors has meant that documents relating to planning, development and building works are distributed across the local authority collections held by the archives. These include minutes of committees, records of the borough surveyor and Town Planning Department.

Records of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets:

- L/THL/D/1/1 - Former LCC/GLC Town Planning Files (TD/DC Tower Hamlets Files)
- L/THL/A/17/1 - Minutes of the Town Planning Committee, 1964-1971
- L/THL/A/20/1 - Minutes of the Housing (Building and Development) Committee, 1967--1971
- L/THL/A/11 - Minutes of the Housing Committee, 1964- 1967
- L/THL/A/21/1 - Minutes of the Housing (Letting and Management) Committee, 1967--1971
- L/THL/D/3 - Records of the Historic Buildings/Conservation Section
- L/THL/E/1 - Records re Private Housing Improvement

Records of the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green:
- L/BGM/A/12 - Records of the Housing Committee
- L/BGM/D/1/1 - Borough Engineer and Surveyor's Department: letter book, 1904--1907

Records of Bow Neighbourhood:
- L/BON/A/3 - Records of Bow Housing and Environmental Improvement Sub-Committee
- L/BON/A/4 - Records of Bow Planning Sub-Committee

Records of the Poplar District Board of Works:
- L/PBW/A/7 - Reports of the Surveyor to the Board
- L/PBW/A/8 - Register of Orders and References from the Board to the Surveyor

Records of the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar:
- L/PMB/A/6 - Minutes of Meetings of the Housing Of The Working Classes Committee, 1901- 1903
- L/PMB/A/11 - Minutes of the Special Housing/Housing and Town Planning Committee, 1919- 1965
- L/PMB/A/19 - Minutes of the Housing Estates Management Committee, 1963-1965
- L/PMB/C - Records of the Borough Surveyor's Department

Records of the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney:
- L/SMB/A/7 - Minutes of the Housing Committee
- L/SMB/A/12 - Minutes of the Works Committee
- L/SMB/A/16 - Minutes of the Supervisory Building Works Committee
- L/SMB/A/22 - Minutes of the Building Works Committee
- L/SMB/D - Records of the Borough Engineer and Surveyor's Department

Records of Wapping Neighbourhood:
- L/WAN/A/2 - Records of the Wapping Planning and Environmental Sub-Committee (formerly the Wapping Planning and Development Committee), June 1988-September
Records of the Whitechapel District Board of Works:
- L/WBW/4 - Minutes of the Committee of Works
- L/WBW/15 - Maps and plans

Further to this series of records held at Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, London Metropolitan Archives (formerly the Greater London Record Office) holds Building Act case files which were considered 'non-current' on the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986. The main series is under the Greater London Council (GLC) (ref GLC/AR/BA). Further records can be found under Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW), London County Council (LCC) and high-level decision-making in minutes under each collection. Please visit London Metropolitan Archives' online resources for further details.
Access StatusOpen
Access_ConditionsSome material within this collection has been closed under the current Data Protection legislation as the records concerned contain personal data of residents and individuals such as names and contact details collected as part of the building application processes.

Please check specific items for details and refer any queries to the Heritage Officer (Archives).
RequestNO - This does not represent a physical document. Please click on the reference number and view list of records to find material available to order at file or item level.
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