Government proposes housing standards cull
DCLG looks at cutting over 100 standards to fewer than 10, and introducing minimum space standards. Damien Carr reports
Report from – Damien Carr
The number of housing standards in England could be cut from over 100 to fewer than 10 under new government proposals, but minimum space standards for new homes could be introduced. The proposals are set out in the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) consultation document on streamlining housebuilding standards.
More than 100 housing standards, which do not fall within current Building Regulations, are available to councils to apply locally. They cover requirements relating to accessibility, space, security, water efficiency, energy, indoor environment, materials and process/compliance.
The DCLG proposes reducing the number of standards to fewer than 10 and cutting 1,500 pages of guidance to fewer than 80 in order, it says, to prevent confusion and create a better environment for housebuilders.
The consultation, which was welcomed by the National Housing Federation and the RIBA, is also inviting views on minimum space and access standards that would allow councils to seek bigger homes to meet local needs, including those for older and disabled people. It proposes phasing out the Code for Sustainable Homes.
Mission to reduce bureaucracy
The Housing Standards Review was launched in October last year following the government’s housing and construction Red Tape Challenge, which was launched to reduce bureaucracy. Since then work streams from across industry have been reviewing standards that are additional to the Building Regulations (England), the Code for Sustainable Homes and Housing Quality Indicators.
The government is proposing to develop a set of national standards either within or as well as the Building Regulations (England).
Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said of the proposals, “Government claims its plans will take off the bureaucratic handbrake that holds back housebuilding, but it is in danger of letting key sustainability considerations roll away completely.”
He continued: “What we need is a vision for national housing standards that provides industry with the clarity and certainty it needs to build homes that are fit for the needs of people in the future. It therefore makes sense to rationalise a set of standards that has proliferated over time and, in some places, become confusing and counterproductive.
“However, with the demise of the Code for Sustainable Homes and big omissions around materials and ecology, we risk losing a momentum that has transformed the way homes have been built over the last seven years.”
The consultation ends on 22 October. To learn more or take part, visit the DCLG website.