The Housing Standards Review consultation document was released a day ago, and has generated a flurry of articles and tweets since. Rightly so. It is the most fundamental shake up of housing regulation in a generation and it needs careful consideration and a lot of discussion. The main points are:
– there will be a ‘discussion’ about space standards but the Govt’s preferred approach is to label homes clearly so that purchasers can make informed decisions.
– the Code for Sustainable Homes is to be scrapped, and small elements of it, such as energy and water will be subsumed into Building Regulations. (This is the same Building Regulations that currently allows many homes to be built at performance levels far below the intended targets)
– local energy targets aka the Merton rule are to be scrapped in favour of zero carbon homes and national efforts to de-carbonise the grid.
– standards such as Lifetime Homes to be either abolished or brought into the building regulations as a tiered standard for accessibility
– no distinction in standards to be made between private and affordable housing
– a national standards list which prevents local authorities from developing their own or applying any standard which is not on the list
My first thoughts are that there are small positives in here which are largely hidden in a hugely regressive document. The progress we have made in the last ten years in sustainable housing design is to be scrapped in favour of what? Nothing. Many housebuilders are proud of the number of homes that they have built using the Code and have done well to manage down the cost of new regulation to the point where it really doesn’t add substantial costs any more. At a time when the housebuilders are all making solid profits and growing quickly, this piece of work appears to have been overtaken by events to some degree.
I will write a longer piece on the consultation in due course.