APS announces register for principal designers in England

principal designers

The Association for Project Safety’s (APS) new competency scheme and register will be launched in April 2024. It is open to all designers in England who are undertaking the role of principal designer (PD) and who need to be certified as competent. 

The APS competency scheme is a structured process that allows designers to demonstrate they have the right competencies for the principal designer role introduced by the Building Regulations etc (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2023.

Competency scheme

The APS Competency Scheme is relevant to individual designers of all disciplines who are undertaking the role of PD. It will be assessed against a competency framework based on PAS 8671. 

Following an application and successful assessment, designers will be included on a register of competent PDs within their area of specialism.

Any organisation which is the designer responsible for a building control application in England, and where there is more than one contractor as defined in the amendment to the building regulations, needs to ensure that it has competent PDs to undertake this regulatory function.

APS register

The APS PD Building Regulation (PDBR) Register is open to members and non-members of the association. 

This new scheme will be of interest to APS members who are also members of a professional design institute and already assessed by APS as competent to deliver CDM 2015 statutory dutyholder roles and non-statutory support/adviser roles to CDM clients and dutyholders. 

APS will welcome applications to the APS PDBR Register from non-members who will be encouraged to combine their PDBR Register application with an application for membership of APS at incorporated membership (IMaPS) or certified membership (CMaPS) levels. 

The Building Safety Act and competence

The Building Safety Act received Royal Assent in April 2022. It is the largest and most significant piece of legislation for the built environment in England in over 50 years and will be a driver for raising industry competence.

While there is a new more stringent regime for buildings in scope, the competence duties are in reference to those working on all buildings. In August 2023, further statutory legislation was published requiring that:

1. dutyholders must demonstrate the competence of their workforce (ie, whole supply chain);

2. dutyholders must ensure clients are aware of their duties before beginning work; and

3. organisations must be able to demonstrate that individuals within their workforce are not working outside their competence.

Non-members can take up a discounted offer to join APS – and gain access to all the webinars, technical information and regional networking opportunities included in their annual membership. 

APS membership – at IMaPS or CMaPS levels – is recognised by the UK construction industry as a benchmark of CDM 2015 competence. 

All design work requiring a building control application, and where there is likely to be more than one contractor, requires a PD to be appointed. The APS register will include sections for competent PDs who have been assessed for non-higher-risk buildings and higher-risk buildings.

Reasonable steps

The APS PDBR register allows clients searching for a PD organisation to check that their chosen firm has the appropriately competent staff for their project. Clients can demonstrate they have taken the reasonable steps the law demands to ensure the people they appoint are competent.

Professor Sam Allwinkle, independent chair of the APS Board of Directors and professor emeritus at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “Improving competence of the workforce in the construction industry, individually and collectively, at all levels, is recognised as a major challenge across the functions of designing, constructing and using  buildings. A competency framework should be adopted and designed using an outcomes-based approach.”

To learn more, contact Andrew Leslie at [email protected]

APS spring webinars will include topics relating to the Building Safety Act, including Principal Designer Competence Requirements – Building Regulations England. 
Details at

Story for PSJ? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News