Along with amendments to current regulations, dual level Building Regulations for access and water are being introduced which will give local authorities some choice to require developers to build to different standards than the minimum requirements.
The government has also clarified the future of the Code for Sustainable Homes. Through changes to the 2008 Climate Change Act, local authorities in England will no longer be able to require levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes. Where there are existing contractual arrangements (for example with registered social landlords under the Affordable Funding Programme 2015-2018) it will be possible to continue to certify and register against the Code.
The government is also exempting house-building sites of 10 units or fewer from the zero carbon standard and off-site carbon mitigation requirements. The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said that this decision would help small-scale house-builders build more homes.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “There can be little doubt that if we are to begin to build the number of new homes we need, then we desperately need to see a reinvigorated SME house building sector and the use of more small sites for the delivery of new housing. If we are to achieve this, it is vital that new regulations and standards are sensitive to the impact which they can have on small development projects.”
He continued: “SME house builders are committed to building to the highest standards, not least because they typically compete based on the quality of the homes they build. Yet, for smaller builders building out small scale sites, the move to the zero carbon standard presents particular challenges. The limitations of small sites tend to reduce options for on-site low carbon technologies, and the more complex, bespoke designs typical of smaller developments make hitting building fabric efficiency targets much harder.”
Mr Berry concluded: “As ever, the SME sector will rise to this challenge, but to also add a requirement for payments or actions to mitigate carbon off-site, which under necessary transitional arrangements small firms will be discharging years before volume builders are, is neither fair nor proportionate. Contrary to the popular misconception, an exemption from the off-site, or ‘Allowable Solutions’, element of the zero carbon standard will have no impact on the energy performance of new homes – what it will do is ease the impact of the policy on the deliverability of small sites. As such, this is a fair and proportionate measure and we very much hope it will be supported and implemented by the next government, regardless of which party or parties take power.”