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What happens to life after Code?

Jon Ponting – Technical Assessor at Energist UK, his thought on what is going to replace CSH?

Since 26th March 2015, local authorities shouldn’t be requesting the Code on any new planning applications (existing sites will need to continue with the Code if requested by the council). This phase-out was announced as part of the Housing Standards Review conclusion. This scheme looked at ways of cutting red tape and additional regulations across the political spectrum. The need to build to CSH has always been a postcode lottery with local authorities opting in to various CSH levels as they saw fit. There is now a drive for builders to be given the same targets regardless of where they are in the country. Although authorities do still have some scope for adding extra conditions into planning policies, they are now restricted, and the scrapping of CSH is part of that logic.

So, how are we going to define sustainable homes going forward? The authors of the Code (the Building Research Establishment) are close to completing its successor.

The Home Quality Mark is expected to be released in October. It is a detailed assessment which gives us a way of proving a dwelling has been built to a better standard than the norm. Rather than purely focusing on sustainability, the key aim of HQM is to “give householders the tools and reassurance to make the smart choice when buying or renting a home.”

There are several key differences between CSH and the Home Quality Mark (HQM) – most notably that HQM is completely voluntary and authorities will not be able to insist that developers meet a certain standard.

And, rather than being driven by generic sustainability targets (such as ‘Energy’, ‘Management’ and ‘Materials’) the Home Quality Mark is divided into three sections, currently labelled ‘Our Surroundings’, ‘My Home’ and ‘Knowledge Sharing’.

If you’re familiar with CSH, you may be pleased to hear there are also some similarities. Based on the current draft document, there are 47 categories in total; many of which bear a resemblance to the topics covered by the Code (such as daylight, water efficiency and carbon emissions). There are some completely new sections to consider also, such as public transport, loss of daylights to neighbours and aftercare. For each category, the developer can score points for meeting certain targets; some categories offer a handful of points, some offer 30+… unlike CSH there is no credit weighting. There are 500 points in total, which are then translated into a five star rating. As this currently stand, you’d need 410 points for a five star house, but this may change when the final documents are published.

So, what’s the point in all this if developers can’t be forced to adopt it?

The Home Quality mark is being marketed as a way of proving how good new houses are. This could eventually lead to better insurance premiums for homes which adopt HQM, and maybe even better rates from mortgage lenders for people who want to buy a HQM assessed dwelling.

Contact us for the latest news on the Home Quality Mark, on 08458 386 387. We’ll be posting fresh information once the scheme is officially launched.

Author: Nethleen Williams

This article was published by Nethleen Williams on 24.05.2019.