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RIBA wants minimum space standards in new regs framework

The RIBA has said it wants minimum space standards to ‘form a core part’ of the government’s review of housing standards and building regulations

Earlier today communities minister Don Foster officially launched an independent review, headed by a new independent group of building industry experts, to simplfy ‘the mass of rules imposed on developers and housebuilders’ and remove ‘unnecessary burdens and bureaucracy’ (read the full review launch statement here).

The proposed red tape cull, which was leaked to The Guardian last weekend, is part of the government’s drive to get more homes built and stimulate growth.  

Although the RIBA welcomed proposals to declutter the ‘hundreds of standards’, the institute said that any new regulatory landscape should include minimum space standards.

RIBA president Angela Brady said: ‘However, while rationalisation is important, is it critical that consumers are protected and that homes are fit for purpose for people, as well as viable for developers.

‘Robust, workable standards will be essential if we are to build the high quality, sustainable and future-proofed homes’

‘Consumer research has highlighted significant public unease at the poor quality of many of our new homes. Robust, workable standards will be essential if we are to build the high quality, sustainable and future-proofed homes that the Government has said its wants to see. The standards developed will have to give Local Authorities the scope to promote high quality design and set ambitious environmental targets. 

‘We welcome the themes identified in the four initial working groups set up by the Government but, following extensive consumer research, we will be keen to see that minimum space standards form a core part of this review.  The provision of adequate minimum space standards across all tenures will be essential if we are to provide ensure that new homes are, sustainable, fit for purpose and are flexible enough to meet future needs.’

Foster insisted that, contrary to some initial fears, essential safety and accessibility protections would remain untouched in the review which will be led by PRP’s Andy Von Bradsky, City of London surveyor and building control expert David Clements, planning specialist Paul Watson and developer Kirk Archibald.

Despite assurances from Foster that the ‘steamlined’ regulations would uphold ‘high sustainability and quality standards’, Paul King, the chief executive of the UK Green Building Council feared any shake-up would result in creating further roadblocks for developers. He said: ‘We remain concerned however that this self-proclaimed ‘radical and fundamental review of the entire framework of building regulations’ will create considerable uncertainty that is more likely to slow down housing delivery than speed it up.

‘While we do believe that there is room for improvement in terms of rationalising the current range of voluntary standards, this must not be at the expense of delivering high quality, sustainable homes fit for the future.’

Announcing the review Don Foster said:

‘The current array of different housing standards used in different parts the country is complex and counter-productive: confusing local residents, councillors and developers.

‘This is why an urgent review has now started, bringing the government together with housebuilders, planners, councils and architects to establish what the unnecessary measures are that we can cut out of the system, whilst ensuring buildings are still made to exacting standards.

‘I want to see a simpler set of housing standards that people can easily understand and that free up developers and councils to get on with the job of building the high quality new homes we so badly to get more first time buyers and families onto the housing ladder.’ 

 

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