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14/04/2015 - Housing Standards Review

The long awaited outcome of the Government’s Housing Standards Review has been released with new legislation redefining and hopefully streamlining modern regulations. Three years in the making with numerous consultations and proposals the finished article was issued on Friday 27th March 2015.

If you recall the point to the Housing Standards Review was to ease the burden on developers and builders by cutting the red tape surrounding planning applications and the conditions set out by Local Authorities which were over and above the Building Regulations.

The fall guy in all of this is The Code for Sustainable Homes which has been scrapped with immediate effect. Local Authorities will no longer be able to specify The CSH when granting planning permission for new developments. However sites with existing permissions based on CSH targets being met will still have to meet the specified standards.

The review also limited Local Authorities power to condition enhanced energy performance targets. The maximum uplift was set at 19% over and above minimum Part L 2013 compliance, so a number of Local Authorities will have to adjust their local plans accordingly especially the London Boroughs. In reality this was the area we felt the Housing Standards Review should have tackled in more detail to reduce the cost and complexity of building homes in England and stop the ‘pick and mix’ approach to housing standards by different local authorities in England, but the Govenrnment only really did half the job.

The Housing Standards Review has paved the way for the introduction of a simplified new Technical Housing Standards to be incorporated into the Building Regulations which Local Authorities will be able to use as required, but they will not be able to specify their own standards. The following categories will be introduced:

1) Water Consumption
2) Accessibility
3) Security
4) Space

The full Ministerial Statement can be viewed here: www.gov.uk/government/ speeches/planning-update-march-2015 and you will be able to see what impact this will have on your latest project.