Practical Post No. 7: Existing Shopping Centres

by Bregs Blog admin team


Practical Post No. 7: Existing Shopping Centres

Under the building control regulations, it has always been the case that a “Material alteration to a unit in a shopping complex” requires a fire safety certificate, and that the developer has to lodge a Commencement Notice before starting work. The reasons for imposing these requirements, to do with fire safety and universal access, are widely understood and accepted.

A “Shopping Complex” covers many large and small centres including Jervis Centre, Dundrum Town Centre, Blanchardstown Centre, Liffey Valley Centre, Mahon Point, Crescent in Limerick; Sligo Quayside etc.

Within a centre, there are many units from large anchor tenants like Dunnes Stores, M&S, Heaton’s, Champion Sports to local independent retailers, coffee shops, fast food outlets, cinemas, parking and creches.

A “material alteration” is a change in layout which has implications for structure or fire safety. This could be moving a partition wall, changing the layout, sub-dividing a shop unit, adding a staircase, putting in a cooking area, changing a shopfront, increasing the occupancy etc.

There is no “downward limit” on the scope of works affected. This type of work is very frequent. Given day-to-day trading pressures, it’s often carried out at night-time, over a weekend, or in a fallow trading period in advance of, for example, the “Christmas rush”. Completion deadlines are vital.

The disastrous effect of S.I. 9 since 1 March is its impact on timescale to completion and occupation of the works. In fit-out projects of this nature there is no question of “turning a blind eye” to the law or to their insurance requirements. Landlords and tenants alike are concerned to the utmost to achieve full statutory compliance, as the safety of shoppers would be a fundamental requirement. But to achieve such full statutory compliance means that where part of the premises is changed, that part cannot be occupied or used unless and until the local authority have accepted as valid, the Certificate of Completion.

If the project is scheduled, as is frequently the case, to be done over a weekend; the 3 working day “down time” turns into five weeks and three days before the works can be opened or occupied.

If the building owner wishes to avail of the express validation procedures set out in S.I. 9 and thereby shorten this down time, the Certificate of Completion must be lodged with the local authority before the work commences on site (before the Commencement Notice is lodged) which is not legally or practically possible.


Other Posts in this series:

Practical Post 1: BC(A)R SI.9 Extensions & Refurbishments– click link here

Practical Post 2: completion- FAO Vintners & Retailers– click link here

Practical posts 3: Change of Use – FDI and offices – Click link here

Practical post 4: What if the builder goes bust?– Click link here

Practical Post 5: Small retail extension- problem with certifier – Click link here

Practical Post 6: no one wants to do certifier roles! – Click link here

Practical Post 8: Employees won’t certify: BC(A)R SI.9 – Click link here

Practical Post 9: Fees & numbers of inspections?: BC(A)R SI.9 – Click link here

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance: BC(A)R SI.9 – Click link here

Practical Post 11: Phasing and BC(A)R SI.9? – Click link here

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance: BC(A)R SI.9 – Click link here

Practical Post 11: Phasing and BC(A)R SI.9? – Click link here

Practical Post 12: “architects only” club?–  Click link here

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 –  Click link here

Practical Post 14: Supervision vs Inspection –  Click link here

Practical post 15: Code of conduct issues –  Click link here

Practical Post 16: Pyrite and certification? – Click link here

Practical Post 17: Off-License fit-out –  Click link here

Practical Post 18- material alterations: Creche  – Click link here

Practical Post 19: Phased completion & BC(A)R SI.9 –  Click link here

Practical post 20: Are builders off the hook with BCAR? – click link here

NOTE: This series of posts is not meant to undermine or be in opposition to any professional advice from registered representative bodies: rather it is to offer additional technical aids to those that find themselves in the unenviable position of having to deal with SI.9 in it’s current form at present. As with all information posted on the Blog we urge all practitioners to check with their respective professional bodies before assuming any roles or duties under Building Control (Amendment) regulation (SI.9 of 2014). We hope to post a number of these practical posts and list in one area, so home owners, SME’s and professionals can drop in and click on a particular topic to get summary information that may be useful to them while working within these new and difficult regulations.