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Tue November 24 2020

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FMB rejects MPs' sustainable homes call

22 Nov 13 A committee of MPs that called on the government not to ditch the Code for Sustainable Homes has got it all wrong, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The FMB has rubbished the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee's report into the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Housing Standards Review as ‘one-sided’ and called on the committee to go back and re-examine the evidence.

The committee's report called on the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) to reconsider its plans outlined in the recent Housing Standards Review consultation to phase out the Code for Sustainable Homes.

But FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: "For years, the building industry has had to negotiate a proliferation of competing, overlapping and sometimes contrary local and national standards. These have added unnecessary complexity and cost to the house building industry, and have had a disproportionate impact on smaller firms and smaller developments.

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"The Housing Standards Review, which took place over an extended period of time with input from all interested parties, systematically examined the different standards in operation and proposed a clear way forward: a set of tiered national standards and the incorporation of these standards over time, wherever possible, into Building Regulations. This would draw a clear and sensible line of distinction between the planning system, which should properly be focused on the impact of buildings on their immediate environment in keeping with the understanding and expertise of local planning authorities, and the Building Regulations, which deal with technical standards."

M Berry added: "The Code for Sustainable Homes may have served a useful purpose in setting and driving standards for sustainable building, but as the Standards Review recognised, the government's policy on zero carbon homes has now outstripped any need for the Code. It must be recognised that current energy efficiency standards required under Part L of the Building Regulations, and the proposed uplift in standards due to be implemented in 2014, are already extremely ambitious and highly challenging for the industry. The idea that local authorities would be looking to set higher standards still is baffling, and frankly divorced from reality.

“In reality, at a time when local government resources are already stretched to breaking point, it must be asked what expertise and understanding do local planning authorities have to start second-guessing technical building standards?"

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