The government is to slash 90 per cent of the current housing standards in response to its long awaited Housing Standards Review (HSR) consultation
The announcement by communities minister Stephen Williams yesterday (13 March) amounts to a complete overhaul of the standards and include a new national minimum space standard for all councils.
There are currently around 100 standards housebuilders have to negotiate, but under the DCLG shake up this will be cut to less than 10 with the number of pages in the remaining documents cut from around 1,000 to ‘fewer than 100’.
Among the housing standards facing the cull are requirements for rainwater havesting, composting bins, and multiple phone lines.
Housebuilders will also no longer have to get multiple sign-off for different elements of the building, from the planning authority, code for sustainable homes assessors, building control, and the homes and communities agencies. Under the new system the technical requirements for new homes will be assessed by building control alone.
Referring to the government’s plans for a national minimum space standard, RIBA head of external affairs Anna Scott-Marshall said: ‘We await the detail of the full announcement but are delighted that the Government has listened to concerns of consumer and is taking steps to address the problems we have identified with the small size of new homes.
‘We need to build hundreds of thousands of new homes in the coming years, today’s announcement takes us one step closer to ensuring these will be well designed, flexible homes with the space people want and need.’
Communities minister Stephen Williams said: ‘The current system of housing standards is complicated and confusing and is ripe for reform.
‘That’s why we’re planning to make the whole system easier to understand and follow, consolidating housing standards so that all the requirements are in one place.
‘This will enable councils and developers to better work together to build high-quality, sustainable and secure homes in communities across the country.’
Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘We are pleased to see ministers re-emphasising the importance of high quality, sustainable homes. Moving standards into national Building Regulations where possible, but with some room for local variation is an approach we broadly support.
‘This new focus on Building Regulations highlights the importance of sticking to the 2016 Zero Carbon trajectory for all new homes, with no further weakening of standards or any delays. And of course over time it will be necessary to bring a wider range of issues into Building Regulations, such as embodied carbon, and the use of sustainable materials, which has been progressed under the Code for Sustainable Homes.
‘We await further details on the transitional arrangements for the Code, but would emphasise that there should not be any weakening of existing standards at the local level while national Building Regulations catch up.’