One key soundbite from George Osborne was a commitment to stick to the Government’s plan to have us building zero carbon homes from 2016. Industry belief about this target date has been teetering lately with rumours and speculation that a delay was on the cards.
Some industry experts have been calling for Westminster to move the 2016 date for fear that the additional costs of building zero carbon homes could cripple the industry... others have been calling for the target to be re-affirmed following months of silence from the Government in this area.
Another key announcement was that changes to Part L of Building Regulations will be confirmed in May. Again, there have been many in the sector suggesting a delay was likely here with blogs and chatrooms rife with speculation.
The fact that Osborne has made this announcement should help steady the waters, as the lack of information and timetables from Westminster had been fuelling the rumour-mill.
It’s anticipated the Part L update will include a tighter target emission rate, stricter U-Values and more of a push towards bringing low and zero carbon technologies into the norm for housebuilders.
Focus has also been placed on the growing number of vacant shops and farm buildings, particularly in rural areas. Initiatives are likely to be launched which will help make it easier for developers to turn these shells into places to live by “reducing planning burdens”.
Two hot potatoes which have been missed out of this week’s discussions have been The Green Deal and Consequential Improvements.
The latter is a concept where people building extensions will need to ringfence X% of their budget to upgrading the existing house. Following red-top ‘Conservatory Tax’ headlines last year, this policy was U-turned and scrapped...
..but now an environmental group is taking legal action against the Government for not following process when deciding to abolish the plan.
Meanwhile, The Green Deal is the Government’s flagship scheme to get us upgrading our existing houses. Homeowners can have their buildings assessed and upgraded to make them more energy efficiency, and can pay for this work with a loan through their electric bills.
With only 1,800 assessments completed since launch at the start of the year, and public knowledge about the scheme still very sketchy, it’s a surprise that no reminders or incentives have come out this week... the focus has clearly been targeted on new buildings and new homeowners.