Setting design and construction standards - consultation outcome
25 March 2014
The Government has long been concerned with the regulatory burden on housebuilders in terms of complex standards applied by local planning authorities on top of mandatory Building Regulations. Following consultation, it has now announced that it intends to consolidate essential requirements into a national framework centred on Building Regulations. We set out key themes below.
Consolidation - Most technical standards will be consolidated into Building Regulations and Approved Documents. The Code for Sustainable Homes will be wound down. However, authorities will have discretion to require optional standards referred to below where necessary to meet certain local circumstances - but these must be set out in a Local Plan (therefore subject to examination):
- Part M's minimum access standards will be retained. Optional standards will include (subject to viability) criteria for age-friendly, accessible and adaptable housing and for wheelchair accessible and adaptable housing. - A single minimum security standard for new homes is mooted, but the Government is considering whether this should be applied through Building Regulations or set locally. - The current water efficiency level will remain, but an optional higher level may be applied by authorities in areas with specific local needs, such as water stress. - No optional additional local standards are proposed in relation to energy.
Zero Carbon Homes - The Government remains committed to implementing zero carbon policies for new homes from 2016. The current intention is to strengthen energy performance requirements in Part L of the Building Regulations (incorporating carbon compliance, energy efficient fabric and services) and the delivery of allowable solutions (use of off-site projects or measures where on-site measures cannot reduce carbon emissions to acceptable levels). The costs of meeting these requirements are likely to be of concern.
Space - A new national space standard (but not a Building Regulation) will specify the internal area of new homes. Local authorities will be able to decide whether to use the standard, but subject to justification against evidenced needs and local plan viability testing.
The Government intends to publish draft regulations and technical standards this summer.
This article was written by Claire Fallows.
For more information please contact Claire on +44 (0)20 7427 1046 or firstname.lastname@example.org