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Construction Experts Delay Red Tape Reduction

The team, which represents 16 bodies from across the housing sector, was set up by the Government last October with the aim of simplifying regulations, making house building cheaper and removing some of the hoops we have to jump through.

The plan was for them to publish their findings at the end of April as part of a wider Government initiative called the ‘red tape challenge’.

But trade bodies are at loggerheads over whether standards in key areas such as space, energy, security, and accessibility, should be universally applied across the public and private sectors. There is also debate over the extent to which standards should be applied locally.

Groups including the National Housing Federation are understood to be pressing for many of the more stringent building standards to apply to developers across all housing tenures - a move opposed by house building bodies such as the Home Builders Federation.

The biggest bone of contention is whether the government should introduce a national space standard for public and private housing, as called for by the Royal Institute of British Architects last week. A source said this was an area where ‘no agreement had been reached’.

London is the only place in the UK with a legal minimum space standard for both tenures. Elsewhere, minimum standards apply only to social housing.

It is understood the panel will recommend consolidating overlapping building standards and regulations into a national minimum standard through building regulations. There would then be Government-defined tiers of standards that local authorities could set based on need and viability.

However, an insider said: ‘There is a split among stakeholders about what [standards] should be set locally and nationally - and how this fits around the government’s localism agenda.’

Standards under review include the Code for Sustainable Homes, secured by design, lifetime homes, standards and quality in development and the Homes and Communities Agency’s housing quality indicators.

Jon Ponting

Author: Jon Ponting

This article was published by Jon Ponting on 24.05.2013.