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Government Responds to the Housing Standards Review Consultation

The Government yesterday released its formal response to the Housing Standards Review Consultation, setting out which recommendations of the review it will implement, along with when and how. Whilst there are still some major details to be published (as you can expect with such sweeping changes), the release provides long awaited classification on exactly which regulations the Government intends to cull and when.

As a reminder the Housing Standards Review put forward recommendations on streamlining Regulation in the house building industry across the following areas:

  • Accessibility

  • Space Standards

  • Security

  • Water Efficiency

  • Energy efficiency

  • Indoor Environmental Standards

  • Materials

  • Process and compliance

It’s these recommendations that the Government has now responded to and given us an indication of how they want to proceed. So here’s what’s on the horizon… Central Government will develop Technical Standards for Accessibility, Space, Security and Water Efficiency which can be adopted by Local Planning Authorities and enforced by Building Control. That will mean LPAs can no longer determine the content of Policy affecting these areas, instead having to use Government standards. These standards could be applied where there is clear local need, but how this will be defined is not yet clear.

Code for Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes also looks to be on the way out, at least in its current form. The Statement expressly states that the role of the Code for Sustainable Homes is to be wound down, although it does leave the door open for a revised version of the CSH to be developed. However, home office requirements, along with rainwater recycling, sheds for cycle storage and compost bins have all been singled out for the cull. Other categories of the CSH are expected to be drafted into Building Regulations (Fabric Energy Efficiency for example and possible smart metering). The Government quickly needs to announce how it will transition away from the CSH, as there is a vast number of sites in development which are obliged to provide CSH compliance, whether contractually or through planning requirements. Uncertainty is the last thing this industry needs, so more information is needed imminently.

Part L is the driver...

Local Planning Authorities also look set to lose their power to enforce increased energy efficiency requirements on a site by site basis, which would ultimately leave the requirements of Part L as the sole driver for energy efficiency. However, LPAs will still have the power to set site by site renewable energy requirements. Whether the carbon targets in the London Plan will survive this cull will remain to be seen… So when will all of this happen? The Government is looking to publish the draft Technical Standards in the summer. The Building Regulations and National Planning Policy Framework will then need to be updated to allow the implementation of the standards. It looks as though the Government is aiming for the start of 2015 to bring these new standards in and phase out the CSH. So for the next 10 months or so it looks to be business as usual, but change is on the way… The full statement from Government can be found here. And a summary of the consultee responses to the Housing Standards Review can be found here.

Jon Ponting

Author: Jon Ponting

This article was published by Jon Ponting on 28.03.2014.