Spring 2012 seems a long time ago now. That’s when the Housing Standards Review was first announced, promising to rationalise and streamline house building regulations. Since then we’ve had multiple consultations, proposed standards and a fair few rumours. But now after almost 3 years we finally have the outcome. Some will love the rationalised standards, other will think the Government has gone too far, or maybe not even far enough. We’ll let you judge for yourself as we run you through the key changes… The Deregulation Bill is set to be given Royal Ascent imminently which will pave the way for the introduction of new Technical Standards which Local Planning Authorities must call upon when setting technical standards. They cannot create their own standards when it comes to:
- Water Consumption: two targets for mains water consumption will be introduced for LPAs to apply where there is local need.
- Accessibility: Three Accessibility Standards will be available to LPAs replacing the option of applying Lifetime Homes.
- Security: Part Q, a new Building Regulation, will be introduced covering security on windows and doors. LPAs cannot apply any other security standards to windows or doors
- Space: New space standards are available to LPAs (similar to the current London Plan standards). LPAs cannot use their own space standards.
The original draft criteria for these standards can be found here, for those who have trouble sleeping at night: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/housing-standards-review-technical-consultation
The Code for Sustainable Homes
It’s time has passed. The CSH is no longer an applicable standard for LPAs when granting planning permission for new residential developments. It will, however remain in place for all existing permissions where the CSH has been applied (legacy sites) and the assessment process will remain. Cue multiple applications to remove CSH conditions on existing sites. LPAs in the meantime will need to remove any reference to the CSH from their Local Plans.
The Home Quality Mark
To fill the void left by the CSH, BRE is introducing the Home Quality Mark; a voluntary scheme which puts the end user at the heart of the assessment. The full standards of the scheme are yet to be developed, with an expected Scheme released in the summer. Will the market respond to a voluntary standard? Time will tell…
LPAs will retain the power to set additional energy efficiency and renewable energy targets, over and above the requirements of the Buildings Regulations, however there is a cap: the equivalent of CSH Level 4 – a 19% reduction over the Part L 2013 Target. Whilst this will lead to some Local Authorities increasing their targets, the London Plan, which currently requires a 35% reduction, may need to be reviewed. Que Boris verses Pickles Round 1!
Zero Carbon Homes
Slated for introduction in late 2016, there will now be an exemption to sites of 10 dwellings or less, which will only need to meet Carbon Compliance as opposed to full Zero Carbon (again equivalent of CSH Level 4). Smaller house builders rejoice!
How will this all be enforced?
Eric Pickles has threatened to introduce further legislation to tackle Local Authorities who do not abide by these new standards. For sure, there will be a period of uncertainty in the industry as we all get to grips with the new standards and Local Authorities are challenged on their interpretation of the new standards. It’s probably a good time to be a planning consultant… You can read the full Written Ministerial Statement here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/planning-update-march-2015 If you have any questions about the new standards and to understand how these changes might affect your next development, give us a call on 08458 386 387.