LocalismThe AJ's bloggers track the latest developments in the plan to hand power to the people
More than half of English councils have failed to draw up local plans in time for the NPPF’s introduction later this month
It promised to give local authorities the power to write their own development plans, but now experts say it is stifling growth and confusing an already murky planning process, reports Merlin Fulcher
The Localism Bill was given Royal Assent yesterday, opening the way for a ‘profound’ overhaul of the English planning system
Richard Rogers has hit out against the government’s proposed overhaul of the planning system claiming it could merge cities and ‘scar the countryside for generations’
The RIBA has urged architects to seize the localism agenda and help communities make the most of their new planning powers
The government has given MPs extra time to contribute to the debate over its controversial planning reforms following huge interest in the policy
The Localism agenda means more work and more proactivity, so getting the ‘key influencers’ on side early is critical, says Geoff Armstrong
Everybody wants to know what the impact of the government’s localism agenda will really be. Here are two, very different, explanatory guides
Craig Casci of Grid Architects argues that housing problems are a symptom of the broken planning system, not the lack of land or delivery
The planning inspectorate has issued guidance to its officers to start viewing the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as a ‘material consideration’ in their decisions
Chancellor George Osborne and communities secretary Eric Pickles have defended the governments’ proposed planning reforms amid fierce opposition from conservation groups
The fourth wave of councils to be given new neighbourhood planning powers has been named by the Department for Communities and Local Government
Ladies and gentleman. It’s good to be with you in Birmingham today.
Over the past 4 years your regular invitations to the Housing Minister have been a consistent feature of the housing landscape. Fortunately much else of that landscape has changed.
In 2010 this country was teetering on the edge of financial oblivion. The economy was shattered, the housing market broken.
From day 1 sorting out this mess has been our top priority:
- we rapidly dismantled the previous administration’s top-down planning system, and replaced it with one that is more democratic and more effective
- we channelled new investment into every area of the housing market
- and we cut the deficit to keep interest rates low for investors and home-buyers
Four years later and we have the fastest growing economy in G7.
More jobs are being created in the UK than the rest of the EU put together, and the housing market in England has turned a corner:
- almost half a million homes have been built, including almost 200,000 affordable homes, and house building is at its highest level since 2007. In the year to June the reformed planning system has given permission for 230,000 new homes
- the construction sector has been growing strongly for the past 16 months, and is hiring new workers at the fastest rate since 1997
- and homebuyers are able to get the housing ladder again; not least the 50,000 households that have benefited through Help to Buy
- at the same time we’re cracking down on rogue operators in the rental market, and giving tenants the know-how and the confidence to get rental deals that suit their needs
The people in this room today have played a crucial role in bringing about this change. Although we’ve not always agreed on everything, fundamentally we share the same perspective. We all want a better housing market, which delivers more homes that people want.
We have listened to you. That’s why we have listened to what you want.
- you asked for certainty about social rents, and we introduced a rent policy that will take us up to 2025
- you asked for certainty about investment policy, and we announced new funding up to 2018
We have listened to you, and you have listened to us.
Your sector rose to the challenge in 2011 when we introduced the new affordable rent model.
Your hard work and business acumen allowed us to keep delivering large numbers of homes at subsidised rents with less capital subsidy. That has meant significant savings for hard-working taxpayers.
A vital success story, because we had to deal with the unsustainable levels of borrowing we inherited, and get public finances back under control.
We are now well on track to meet our ambition to deliver 170,000 new affordable homes over 4 years. Taken together our affordable housing programmes will deliver 335,000 new homes by 2018, and achieve the fastest rate of affordable house building for at least 2 decades.
These are impressive numbers. But they are much more than that. These new affordable homes are making a real difference to families across the country. Providing security, and a place they can call home.
The thing I have enjoyed most since become Housing and Planning Minister is getting out and about to see the impact of our policies on the ground.
like the City Mills regeneration scheme in Hackney, which is being developed by London and Quadrant Housing Association. A £200 million investment that will deliver over 750 new homes, and a community centre along with new shops and public spaces
or the Barracks Lane development in Walsall Housing group; over 70 new homes have transformed the formerly run-down area and reduced antisocial behaviour; an elderly resident told me that not only did she love her new home, she was also much happier because she no longer got sworn at by local kids on the way to the shop
New homes, at affordable prices, that are transforming peoples’ lives. I hope that you, like me, will see that as an accomplishment we can all be proud of. But we are not resting on our laurels. We all recognise that as a country we need to build more homes.
There is a long way to go, so I hope that you, like me, also recognise that public spending will continue to be constrained for a long time to come.
That means we must secure value for money on every pound of taxpayers’ money we spend on housing. It means being innovative, and willing to do things differently.
Affordable Housing Guarantee Scheme
Take our Affordable Housing Guarantee Scheme. Using our strong economic record to offer housing guarantees that finance new rented homes.
The scheme is open for business and offering the lowest priced debt in the sector’s history. We’re already supporting almost 6,000 new homes by guaranteeing over £630 million of debt for 16 housing associations.
Like Coastline Housing, who have told us that being part of the scheme has saved them half a million pounds a year in interest payments alone.
I’d encourage all registered providers here today to contact our delivery partner, Affordable Housing Finance, and see if you could also benefit.
Custom build and Right to Build
We are also actively looking to diversify and strengthen the capacity of our house building industry. Encouraging more people to build their own homes is a central part of this initiative.
We know that interest in this form of housing is growing and that means new opportunities for the construction industry.
This is no longer a fringe DIY market for people with lots of time on their hands, and even more money. It is the future. Homes that are cheaper, greener, and better designed.
Over the next 9 months I’ll be driving forward a range of new initiatives.
These will build on the steps we have already taken, such as exempting custom build housing from the community infrastructure levy and asking councils to assess and plan to meet local demand for custom built housing.
In June we launched a £150 million repayable fund to help prepare up to 10,000 plots for custom builders. The first bidding round closes at the end of this month. Housing associations are eligible, so I would encourage you to apply.
We will also be consulting on a new ‘Right to Build’ which will give custom builders a right to a plot from councils.
Very soon I will be announcing vanguards that will test how the new Right should be designed.
And we’ll also be looking at how we can provide more development finance for the sector.
In the coming years custom build could provide a new land of opportunity for housing associations, so I urge you to start thinking about how you could get involved.
Advanced housing manufacture
I also want the whole housing industry to consider how they can use innovative construction methods. Offsite construction not only creates high quality, affordable homes, it also delivers them quickly.
Last month in Walsall I saw 2 family homes being built in a day by the Accord Group. The parts for these homes were made by local people in Accord’s purpose-built factory, right across the road from the 40 home brownfield development site.
And just down the road the Regents Wharf development, built by Mar City, is using modular construction to build new homes in just 3 days.
These techniques are widely used on the continent, but have been neglected in the UK. We need to catch up. That’s why the government will be supporting this type of innovation through the Affordable Homes Programme.
A fifth of all the homes built through the first phase of funding will use these innovative techniques.
It’s attractive for providers of affordable homes – because you will be able to access the rental stream more quickly.
Garden city - Ebbsfleet - Large Sites Infrastructure Fund
Government support for affordable housing will also come through our wider capital funding programmes.
I fully expect housing associations to play an important role building new homes in the new garden city at Ebbsfleet.
And to benefit from our Builders Finance Fund, and large sites programme.
Only last week, I announced a further 2 sites that we had unlocked through our Large Sites Infrastructure Fund – over 6,400 homes at both the Newark Future site and the former garrison at Wellesley in Aldershot – with more to come.
We’ve come a long way since 2010. And no sector has changed more than yours.
But there is a long way to go to build the homes this country needs.
So today I want to thank you for everything you have done over the last 4 years, but also challenge you to consider every opportunity for future innovation.
Updated: Added illustrative map giving a general outline of the areas in Islington where the Article 4 Direction applies.
Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, today (17 September 2014) took steps to ensure that empty and redundant office space in the London Borough of Islington can continue to be converted into new homes for Londoners.
Since May 2013, those looking to convert offices into new homes have been able to do so under a permitted development right – that is, without applying for planning permission, other than a light-touch “prior approval” mechanism for transport, contamination and flooding issues. Such rights have been enthusiastically adopted by the housing industry, with a particular move towards providing new studio and 1 bedroom flats. This has included the conversion and refurbishment of the Archway Tower in Islington.
However, Islington council issued an Article 4 Direction, seeking to remove these rights across the borough. This was despite a special exemption exercise previously taking place, which exempted the much of the strategic office space in the borough.
After discussions with the council, the steps taken today by ministers will limit where office to residential conversions cannot take place under permitted development rights to very small, targeted parts of Islington – rather than a blanket ban applying across the whole area.
Anyone looking to convert offices to homes outside those specific areas will continue benefit from the government’s permitted development rights, where they no longer have to apply for planning permission other than the prior approval process.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
House building levels have reached their highest levels since 2007, but there is an acute need for more homes, especially in London.
With more mobile modern day working practices, and housing being in such demand, it makes sense to allow the free market to create new homes on brownfield land. In turn, such regeneration helps protect the countryside.
The steps I’m taking today ensure that Londoners can benefit from the steps we’ve taken to cut red tape and make it easier to deliver these new homes in Islington.
This map, for illustration purposes, gives a general outline of the areas in Islington where the Article 4 Direction applies. Formal documentation will be published by the council.
It’s good to be here in Birmingham today.
It’s an impressive conference.
The whole exhibition illustrates how the private sector can work hand in hand with the public sector.
Now, for many years, I’ve been vocal on the issue of waste collections.
That’s because it matters
to my constituents
to the wider public
and for the local environment
Across the country, in every town, village and hamlet, waste collections are the most visible public service, where state and citizens meet.
Miss 1 collection and residents will immediately spot the difference – as has been clear during winter snow, after Birmingham’s changes to garden waste recycling, or during Brighton’s previous bin strike.
Before long severe health and environmental hazards start to stack up.
That makes you the thin green line: defending the border between cleanliness and chaos.
Over the last 4 years you have also been at the frontline of changing the way local government works.
Making it better, smarter and more efficient. That’s not just my opinion. It’s what the public think.
An ICM poll last year found that many people think the quality of frontline local services, including rubbish collection, has improved despite tighter spending.
A separate Yougov poll also revealed that people consider waste collection to be the most important local service.
Back in 2011, the coalition government’s waste strategy made very clear that it was our goal to increase the frequency and quality of rubbish collections, and to make it easier to recycle.
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Public being ignored
Public policy under the last administration actively encouraged fortnightly collections, but never sought to obtain a democratic mandate to justify it.
This is despite the fact that evidence shows that you can increase recycling rates with weekly collections, and deliver savings without cutting frequency.
Why the denial?
I believe the answer is quite simple. The purpose of politics has been forgotten.
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This is when the groupthink around fortnightly collections started.
Instead of a public service that makes peoples’ lives better, bin collections were viewed as a tool to deliver arbitrary policy goals – like reducing carbon emissions to the detriment of local amenity and local environmental issues like fly-tipping.
Climate change is a real risk that the state should address – but it isn’t a green light to trash the local environment in the name of the global environment.
It’s a similar debate with on-shore wind farms: we need cleaner energy to help the environment, but not at the cost of wrecking our landscape and disfiguring our heritage.
We need to get the environmental balance right between global and local. The shift to fortnightly collections wasn’t a localist initiative.
You had the Audit Commission, a Whitehall quango, marking down councils which didn’t cut their collection frequency.
WRAP told councils to cut services, but only after the local elections, to avoid a backlash from voters and the tiresome nuisance of democracy.
Local area agreements and Whitehall efficiency targets rewarded councils for cutting collections.
And the law was changed to allow for the imposition of bin fines for breaches of increasingly complex bin rules, and the legal obligations to collect household rubbish were further watered down.
The government began funding covert microchips in family bins, without telling people why.
And some councils used anti-terrorism powers to snoop on people putting out their rubbish.
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Brussels dictating local services
But in the whole debate, there is also an elephant in the room.
Pulling the strings and calling the shots.
Of course that elephant is Brussels.
The Local Government Association says bin collections should be a matter for local councils.
They are blind or oblivious that waste policy is increasingly just driven by poorly drafted EU Directives, not a municipal agenda.
The EU’s meddling has even extended to preventing us from buying powerful vacuum cleaners.
So no doubt we’ll soon be forced to buy dustpans with holes in in order to save plastic.
Indeed, the only country which has benefited from better waste collections thanks to the European Union is Communist Cuba.
It bizarrely receives funding for weekly collections through the EU’s international development programme.
I know that very often local decision makers were left frustrated by the complexity of EU regulation.
Subsidarity should mean that decisions are devolved to the lowest appropriate level – but instead we have the EU issuing confusing laws on whether or not you can have co-mingled collections.
That’s why my department has challenged the incorrect interpretation that EU directives require fortnightly collections or 19 different bins.
Better services for local people
But it’s not just about opposing things. We have a positive agenda for improving services.
We have safeguarding weekly collections for 6 million households through the Weekly Collection Support Scheme, while delivering environmental improvements at the same time.
We issued the first-ever Whitehall guidance to encourage weekly bin collections.
It challenges the myths that fortnightly bin collections are needed to save money or increase recycling.
There’s more than 1 way to save money.
And where there’s muck, there’s brass – as evident by the massive potential market in recycled materials.
We are supporting around 40 innovative reward schemes to back recycling, and recently pledged an extra £5 million to help councils increase their recycling rates through innovation and technology.
We have removed Whitehall directives demanding fortnightly bin collections, abolished plans for new bin taxes, and changed the law to scrap unfair bin fines and stop snooping powers for bin inspectors.
We’re also changing building regulations to tackle ‘bin blight’, where people’s wheelie bins are forced to clutter the streets or magically levitate in mid-air rather than enjoy a sensible place for storage.
This action all stems from a simple belief.
Communities across the country want a frequent and comprehensive rubbish and recycling service, and we believe they deserve one.
They’re not being awkward or demanding.
A typical Band D household pays £122 a month in Council Tax. A typical refuse collection service costs councils £6 to £7 a month per household. You do the maths. And I’m pleased to say that our efforts are reaping results and we have started to turn the tanker around.
14 million households in England have some form of weekly collection of smelly rubbish.
Had we not taken action, weekly collections would have disappeared by 2015.
You only have to look at the extinction of weekly collections in most of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to see what could have been.
Indeed, the Welsh government now has a policy of supporting 3-weekly or monthly bin collections.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Councils in England are proving that they can use the range of support my department provides to deliver the service that local people want.
- like East Cambridgeshire District Council
They have improved their recycling service by expanding the range of materials collected in tandem with its weekly collection of residual waste.
The result? Recycling rates have increased from 34% to 52%, and 82% of residents say they recycle more.
- or the London Borough of Havering’s Local Green Points recycling rewards scheme
By April 17,500 residents had signed up to the service, and 113 local businesses had offered to provide the incentives.
Our support is also helping to protect the excellent weekly services that are setting the benchmark for all councils.
Like Bournemouth Borough Council. They have maintained a weekly collection of residual waste, while consistently being 1 of the best recycling authorities in England.
It’s 1 reason they’ve recently been successful with a £262,000 bid for my department’s Transformation Challenge Award.
This upfront investment will help them and the Dorset Waste Partnership save money, manage waste better, encourage more recycling and reduce reliance on landfill disposal.
- or take Ribble Valley Borough Council
They have retained weekly collections, have 1 of the highest recycling rates in Lancashire, but the cost of their service is substantially lower than similar councils.
These councils expose the myth that fortnightly collections and fines are needed to increase recycling.
And if people want to save money, they should consider how to improve their services, not make them worse.
Improve services, don’t bully people
Take procurement. The Circular Economy Task Force has noted that every bin in Britain costs on average £5 more to buy than a German bin.
That’s £200 million spent over the odds on buying bins.
Nicht so gut.
Of course, councils should tailor their services to local needs, especially given the differences between urban, suburban and rural communities.
But the lack of any common standard on bins, rubbish trucks or even colours, increases the cost of procurement and also makes education and recycling campaigns far harder.
The proliferation of different schemes, as well as the sheer number of bins, is 1 of the reasons why recycling rates are stalling.
We have a lot to learn from behavioural insight – the politics of “nudge”.
If make it easier for families to go green, they will recycle more.
Rewards for recycling show how working with families can deliver environmental benefits.
You don’t need a draconian approach.
Punishing people for leaving out smelly rubbish.
It is about making it accessible.
That’s why we will continue to resist the bin barons who pushed through fortnightly bin collections, and are now trying to move to monthly bin collections by stealth: The Binquistion.
Not on our watch.
Instead this government is protecting the environment by supporting recycling, and championing weekly collections that protect local amenity and public health.
Both can be achieved together.
They deserve more, and we’ve shown how this can be accomplished, with a partnership of the public and private sectors working together.
Proposed new measures to tackle travellers who flout planning rules and abuse the system will crack down on unauthorised sites, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said today (14 September 2014). They will ensure fairness for all in the planning system and provide greater protection for our countryside and the green belt.
Between 2000 and 2009 there was a 4-fold increase in the numbers of unauthorised caravans - which, the minister argued, created tensions between travellers and the settled population.
Measures proposed today will ensure those who cause misery to their neighbours by setting up unauthorised sites do not benefit from the very planning rules they choose to ignore.
Brandon Lewis said:
We will not sit back and allow people who bypass the law to then benefit from the protection it can offer.
We have already strengthened the powers that councils have to enforce planning rules and take action against breaches which fuel community tensions. This will not only tackle the abuse of the system but prevent long drawn-out cases like Dale Farm.
Today’s proposed measures go even further, and would end the perverse incentive for councils not to act when travellers ignore planning rules and set up unauthorised sites.
Support for communities who abide by planning rules
Where travellers set up large-scale unauthorised sites, they can cause misery for neighbours as well as significant costs to the council.
Local authorities are then faced with the difficult choice of taking early enforcement action - meaning they are required to meet the needs of travellers being moved on - or simply leave them to continue living on sites without planning permission.
Under today’s proposals, there would be no assumption that councils facing this problem in their area would have to plan to meet that need, which has only arisen because of large-scale unauthorised sites.
Instead, councils in this situation would simply be required to plan to provide sites for the numbers of travellers they could reasonably expect.
On top of this, it proposes that the definition of travellers in planning law will be changed so that local authorities would only be asked to plan ahead to meet the needs of those who lead a genuine travelling lifestyle.
This would mean any application for a permanent site by someone who has stopped physically travelling would be considered in the same way as an application from the settled population - rather than be considered under policies relating to travellers.
The majority of travellers are law-abiding citizens who abide by planning rules: today’s proposed measures would ensure travellers who play by the rules are put on an equal footing, giving them the same chance of having a safe place to live and bring up their children as anyone else.
Green belt protections
Ministers also want to strengthen the level of protection given to sensitive areas and the green belt against inappropriate traveller site development.
Proposals published today would include reducing the circumstances in which temporary permission may be granted, ensuring green belt policy applies to traveller sites in the same way it does for most bricks-and-mortar housing, and that councils should very strictly limit new traveller sites in open countryside.
View the consultation which has been published today.
With students across the country going back to school this week, Local Growth Minister Penny Mordaunt announced 900 young people will now be able to pursue their dream careers in engineering and manufacturing at a new dedicated campus in the Solent at Daedalus Enterprise Zone today (12 September 2014).
On a visit to the college, Local Growth Minister Penny Mordaunt saw first-hand how more than £9 million of public funding supported construction of the new state of the art learning campus at Fareham College. Work on the site, which began last year, included engineering apprentices from the college.
Enterprise zones across the country are investing in further education to equip young people with the vocational skills they need to compete in the job market.
As the new campus prepares to welcome its first cohort of students, the Centre of Excellence in Engineering and Manufacturing Advanced Skills Training will offer apprenticeship programmes in automotive, manufacturing, and engineering with blue chip companies such as BAE Systems, GE Aviation, and Virgin Atlantic.
The course curriculum was created in partnership with local industry leaders and aims to give students a choice of career and a vocational course to suit. It will also help the wider development of the zone by attracting companies seeking to relocate on site and potentially providing new jobs for students when they graduate.
Local Growth Minister Penny Mordaunt said:
It is essential that we invest in young people now and equip them with the skills that they and British businesses need to thrive. The new college will allow students to pursue their dream careers and become future business leaders. This specially designed vocational course created in partnership with the industry and Enterprise Zone will not only help local young people reach their potential but compete in a competitive job market, as well as bringing widespread benefits to the local area.
Innovative sites like Fareham support the government’s long-term economic plan where enterprise zones are helping to build resilient economies. I offer my congratulations to everyone involved in this fantastic new facility.
Peter Marsh, Deputy Principal of Fareham College said:
Fareham College is committed to supporting young people and adults develop the skills and experience to further their careers. The creation of the new Centre for Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training has offered us the chance to work with employers to design both the curriculum and the facilities that truly meet their needs in the key growth sectors of aeronautical, marine, electronics, composites, automotive and manufacturing engineering.
The support of the local enterprise partnership and the Homes and Communities Agency and Hampshire County Council has enabled us to create an outstanding new centre which will be part at the heart of a new hub of advanced technologies; with lower land costs, grant funding and zero rates for the first few years the financial package was very attractive too. Despite concerns that the Enterprise Zone’s location was more remote than our town centre campus, enrolments at this new specialist facility have already exceeded our initial targets and we are on course to be operating at full capacity within 2 years.
The news comes as planning permission for a new dedicated Built Environment, Skills and Enterprise Centre College in Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone was approved by the council. The £10.5 million project will be part funded with £2.5 million of funding from the government’s Homes and Communities Agency and will be ready in autumn 2015 where it will welcome circa 4,000 students. The industry is collaborating with the college to ensure courses are aligned to the workforce needs of the Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone and surrounding local area, with courses in the renewable energy, engineering and construction sectors.
The government is committed to driving up quality and flexibility in further education, which includes the establishment of national colleges for advanced manufacturing, high speed rail and nuclear. Supporting the creation of these new colleges will enable the UK to compete at the cutting edge of vocational skills development – making the country a more attractive location for investment, and providing greater scope to export our educational expertise.
As part of it long term economic plan the government set up the 24 zones as a 25-year project to rebalance the economy and create future centres of excellence including in further education and key industries such as aviation, pharmaceutical, offshore energy and automotive. Since their start 3 years ago enterprise zones have created more than 9,000 jobs, attracted over 300 businesses and secured £1.2 billion of private sector investment.
The vocational courses at the Centre of Excellence in Engineering and Manufacturing Advanced Skills Training in Solent Enterprise Zone will be run in partnership with companies including BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Virgin Atlantic, Coopervision, Burgess Marine, and Jensen Motorsport.
North East Enterprise Zone
Gateshead College’s new ground breaking Future Technology Centre opened in June thanks to £2.36 million of government funding. This new, unique centre provides office space and facilities for companies developing low carbon vehicle technology and smart home technology development. Apprentices at the college will work with companies to gain experience of working in the automotive sector.
Discovery Park Enterprise Zone
Hadlow College is due to break ground in October for a new science and technical building, next to the Enterprise Zone site. The college will encourage the sharing of knowledge and training with tenants at Discovery Park.
Updated: Added link to the consultation.
A package of measures published today (12 September 2014) will save housebuilders and councils £114 million per year by cutting red tape while ensuring homes are still built to demanding standards, particularly on security, wheelchair accessibility and space.
The current system of rules on how new homes can be built encourages wide differences across the country with councils able to select from a range of standards in a ‘pick and mix’ approach that gives an unlimited number of permutations in local rules. This creates cost, uncertainty, bureaucracy and duplication for housebuilders. The government is consulting today on the details of how it will consolidate this mass of standards into a core range of 5 standards.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:
We need to build more homes and better quality homes and this government is delivering on both. It’s now time to go further by freeing up housebuilders from unnecessary red tape and let them get on with the real job building the right homes, in the right places, to help families and first time buyers onto the property ladder.
The current system of housing standards creates a labyrinth of bureaucratic rules for housebuilders to try and navigate, often of little benefit and significant cost. We are now slashing this mass of unnecessary rules down to just 5 core standards saving housebuilders and councils £114 million a year whilst making new homes safer, more accessible to older and disabled people and more sustainable.
Current housing standards required of new development can be unworkable, including demands for solar and wind energy sources that can’t physically fit onto the roofs of apartment buildings, or unnecessary including compliance regimes which add thousands to the cost of building a new home without any benefit.
The remaining core of 5 standards will cover:
- security: introducing a national regulation on security standards in all new homes to protect families from burglary
- space: for the first time ever, a national, cross tenure space standard that local authorities and communities can choose to use to influence the size of new homes in their local area
- age friendly housing: new optional building regulations for accessible and adaptable mainstream housing to meet the needs of older and disabled people
- wheelchair user housing: the introduction for the first time of an optional building regulation setting standards for wheelchair housing.
- water efficiency: the ability to set higher water efficiency standards in areas of water shortage
This is the first time national standards for security, wheelchair accessible housing and internal space have been drawn up.
The consultation published today seeks views on the detailed technical requirements supporting this new approach to housing quality.
The government proposal is for the security standards to become a new mandatory regulation, and for councils to be able to decide whether to apply the other remaining standards to developments built in their areas.
In addition a new zero carbon homes standard will come into force through the building regulations from 2016, building on the 30% energy efficiency improvements already introduced into building regulations in 2010 and 2013. These changes are already saving householders up to £200 on energy bills.