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  6. Government initiates new standards for new homes

Government initiates new standards for new homes

Work has started on a new Local Standards framework for new homes, the Department for Communities and Local Government has revealed. It will be developed and maintained by industry and councils but led by house builders.

The development Industry and councils will develop the ideas themselves, with Government help, to ensure the options proposed meet the needs of local communities, and don't impose unrealistic burdens on developers.

The new local framework will be implemented through the National Planning Policy Framework, which will be introduced by April 2012.

Currently house builders face a mix of building standards and codes attached to planning permissions. Ministers believe some of these extra requirements represent unnecessary 'gold plating', which can be contradictory and place additional costs on developers.

In their place, house builders and councils will work together to develop a simple and transparent 'menu' of costed standards, ministers said.

Housing minister Grant Shapps signalled this initiative in a speech to house builders. He also confirmed that the recent review of Building Regulations will be published shortly, stressing that the Regulations will be retained as the mechanism to set national minimum standards.

Shapps has also scrapped proposals for new standards (known as the Core Standards) for social housing and homes to be built with Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) help on publicly-owned land.

In the meantime the HCA will continue to use existing standards, but ministers have confirmed that in the longer term the standards that apply to private and public housing should be the same

Speaking to the National House Building Council, Shapps said: “There's no good reason why homes built on public land should be built any differently to those of high quality on private land. So I'm getting rid of this unnecessary requirement, and I'll be working hard to make sure that, in the long run, the standards that apply to private and public housing are exactly the same.”

"I'm also calling time on the cocktail of local building standards that developers have to meet, some of which are directly contradictory. House builders are the experts at building homes, so I'm inviting them to be in charge of developing a new framework for local building standards - one which enables communities to get the high quality homes they demand, but without causing unnecessary costs and delays for developers."

Read the CLG press notice.


Roger Milne

2 December 2010