As people look towards 2017, there are many questions relating to the future of the commercial property and building markets following June’s EU referendum result.
Investment in commercial property in the UK has fallen since, with retail properties, hotels, and office space bearing the brunt of the impact (the deal value in this sector was down by 25 per cent compared with July). However, while the numbers may suggest tentative buying behaviour, many economists and commercial property experts believe this to be a period of correction and not a crash. There is still tenant demand for example, and as commercial leases are much longer than residential (the BPF reveals the average commercial lease length has hit an eight-year high at 7.2 years), current occupancy rates are unlikely to be changed by the triggering of article 50.
In terms of new construction, the CPA has in place a forecast growth of 3.6 per cent in 2017, with commercial offices expected to see the strongest rates of growth by 6 per cent. As these buildings go up however, changes are expected in the way of commercial building regulations. Perhaps one of the most important changes from a building perspective will be around the marking of cables through the Construction Product Regulation (CPR). While there are plans in place for changes currently, these could be overturned when Britain leaves the EU and does not have to abide by the safety regulations that are being currently outlined.
Changes to CPR for cables
As of July 1st 2017, it will be a mandatory requirement for any fixed installation cables sold in the EU for use in construction to bear a CE mark, which will allow free movement of goods.
The manufacturer must ensure that the cables bear a declaration of performance, or DOP, and the appropriate CE mark. These rules were introduced on the Date of Application (DoA), July 1st 2016, with manufacturers having a year to phase out old models and introduce products with the new markings. Currently, CPR applies to certain cables when classifying how they will perform in the event of a fire (e.g. reaction to smoke and spreading of flames). However, there have not been classifications for specific fire performance cables that are used in designated applications such as fire alarms and sprinklers, although it is expected that such a CPR for fire resistant cable will follow in the coming years.
While it’s hard to say for certain whether a British manufacturer would want to remove the safety markings in favour of something created by the British government instead of the EU, the option will be there post-Brexit. Questions about whether or not cables and certain construction projects will be affected can be posed to a specialist British Cable Supplier.