The Government is planning to slash the number of housing standards councils can pick for new build properties in their area – and crucially this includes standards which demand developers build in renewable energy sources.
The latest Housing Standards review issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) suggests it is “no longer appropriate for local plan policies to specify additional standards” for how much of the energy use from homes should come from on-site renewables.
More than 100 housing standards are currently available to councils to apply in their local area. The DCLG says this includes demands for solar and wind energy sources “that can’t physically fit onto the roofs of apartment buildings” and requirements for rainwater harvesting in places that don’t suffer from water shortage.
Most housing standards are imposed voluntarily by local planning authorities through local policies but are not regulations laid down by government.
The DCLG suggests it is often unclear which part of an authority is responsible for checking whether standards have been met and what it is they are checking. It claims standards can add considerably to development costs, delay projects, add more local authority bureaucracy and stop growth.
Communities Minister Don Foster, who aims to cut the number of standards to less than 10 said: “At a time when we are working closely with British business to create jobs and build a stronger economy it’s essential the government plays its part by taking off the bureaucratic handbrake that holds back house building and adds unnecessary cost. I’m proposing to cut needless red tape to let house builders get on with the real job of building the high quality new homes that people need, especially families and first time buyers.
“The current mish-mash of housing standards means that from Allerdale in Cumbria to Zoar in Cornwall, no same set of rules always applies – it’s confusing, bureaucratic and cannot be allowed to continue.”
The Government has launched a consultation on the proposals following which it will set out which housing standards will continue.