Slash building red tape, says commission

Ministers must show they trust the construction sector to work in the public interest by slashing red tape and introducing tougher sanctions for firms that break the rules, according to a government commission.

In particular, the commission – set up by the cabinet as part of efforts to reduce bureaucracy – says the role of local authorities should be drastically reduced. Building firms themselves should have final responsibility for the technical side of the building process, not councils, and local authorities should no longer be able to tack extra rules on to nationally-agreed legislation, the report says.
The commission, headed by former housing minister and construction sector lobbyist Sybilla Dekker, also says local zoning plans should be made much simpler and the right of appeal about applications to change zoning plans should be limited.
The report was welcomed by housing minister Ella Vogelaar who said she was prepared to experiment with a number of its ideas to reduce local council involvement.
The Dutch construction sector is still struggling to restore its image after being hit by a number of scandals in recent years. In 2005, a number of building firms were fined a total €230m for their role in a massive corruption and fraud case which involved hundreds of companies.
Building firms were also heavily criticised for breaking building regulations at the Schiphol airport detention centre, where 11 people were killed in a fire.

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