Can I have a copy of the plans?'
Copies of plan is a request frequently received by the Building Control Service. Whether this request comes from a student, architect, building owner or perhaps a neighbour, regrettably we are unable to provide copies of plans in the majority of cases.
The reason we are unable to help is that we are bound by legislation, principally in this case the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
'Copyright' means literally the right to copy any material. The copyright holder is the 'Author' of the material. In our case this means whoever prepared the plans (not the person for whom the plans were prepared). At the time of writing, copyright of plans exists for seventy years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.
Therefore it will be necessary for any enquirer to obtain a letter from the person who has prepared the plan, or his successor. Regrettably should such a person prove untraceable the Council will be unable to accede to any request to furnish copies of the plans.
Looking at building regulations application
It is necessary first of all to dispel a myth. There is no general right to look at plans submitted for the Building Regulation purposes. The only people who have a right to see these applications would be the architects who had prepared them and their clients. When a property changes hands, the purchaser has, in law, no right of sight.
Where right of sight has been granted, it should be understood that 'sight' means just that. A granting of sight of plans does not mean that tracings, or sketches can be taken from the material since to do so might be a breach of copyright.
If you are encountering problems on site with ground conditions, old building plans or ordnance survey records may provide clues as to the reason for unusual ground conditions.