A package of measures published today (12 September 2014) will save housebuilders and councils £114 million per year by cutting red tape while ensuring homes are still built to demanding standards, particularly on security, wheelchair accessibility and space.
The current system of rules on how new homes can be built encourages wide differences across the country with councils able to select from a range of standards in a ‘pick and mix’ approach that gives an unlimited number of permutations in local rules. This creates cost, uncertainty, bureaucracy and duplication for housebuilders. The government is consulting today on the details of how it will consolidate this mass of standards into a core range of 5 standards.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:
We need to build more homes and better quality homes and this government is delivering on both. It’s now time to go further by freeing up housebuilders from unnecessary red tape and let them get on with the real job building the right homes, in the right places, to help families and first time buyers onto the property ladder.
The current system of housing standards creates a labyrinth of bureaucratic rules for housebuilders to try and navigate, often of little benefit and significant cost. We are now slashing this mass of unnecessary rules down to just 5 core standards saving housebuilders and councils £114 million a year whilst making new homes safer, more accessible to older and disabled people and more sustainable.
Current housing standards required of new development can be unworkable, including demands for solar and wind energy sources that can’t physically fit onto the roofs of apartment buildings, or unnecessary including compliance regimes which add thousands to the cost of building a new home without any benefit.
The remaining core of 5 standards will cover:
- security: introducing a national regulation on security standards in all new homes to protect families from burglary
- space: for the first time ever, a national, cross tenure space standard that local authorities and communities can choose to use to influence the size of new homes in their local area
- age friendly housing: new optional building regulations for accessible and adaptable mainstream housing to meet the needs of older and disabled people
- wheelchair user housing: the introduction for the first time of an optional building regulation setting standards for wheelchair housing.
- water efficiency: the ability to set higher water efficiency standards in areas of water shortage
This is the first time national standards for security, wheelchair accessible housing and internal space have been drawn up.
The consultation published today seeks views on the detailed technical requirements supporting this new approach to housing quality.
The government proposal is for the security standards to become a new mandatory regulation, and for councils to be able to decide whether to apply the other remaining standards to developments built in their areas.
In addition a new zero carbon homes standard will come into force through the building regulations from 2016, building on the 30% energy efficiency improvements already introduced into building regulations in 2010 and 2013. These changes are already saving householders up to £200 on energy bills.