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16/09/2014

New measures to boost British housebuilding

Words: Laura Edgar
Stephen Williams (photograph courtesy of the Liberal Democrats)

British housebuilders and councils could save £114 million per year as a result of new measures announced by the government. 

Published on 12 September, the measures aim to ensure that homes are built to “demanding standards” particularly with regards to security, wheelchair accessibility and space - while still saving housebuilders and councils money by cutting red tape.

Currently, the rules on how new homes can be built encourage wide differences across the country, with councils able to pick from a range of standard. This, the government argues, increases the cost and creates uncertainty, bureaucracy and duplication for housebuilders.

The standards required of new developments can also be unworkable, particularly with regards to the demands of solar and wind energy, as well as compliance regimes adding thousands to the cost of building a house, the government claims.

Communities minister Stephen Williams (pictured above) said that more homes of better quality are needed and that more needs to be done to free housebuilders from “unnecessary” red tape and let them get on with “building the right homes, in the right places, to help families and first time buyers onto the property ladder".

He said: “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 five 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.”

The government is now consulting on how the current standards can be consolidated into the five core standards, particularly by introducing a national regulation of the security standards in all new homes to protect families from burglary; 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, as well as the ability to set higher water efficiency standards in areas that have a water storage. In addition, the core standards will look at wheelchair accessible, disability and age accessible housing.

A spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation told The Planner: “The government made a commitment shortly after getting elected to cut red tape so it’s positive that progress is being made. Reducing the red tape and regulatory costs that are levied on house building will make more sites viable and help increase housing supply.

“As with all these things the devil will be in the detail. Ensuring what criteria would allow local authorities to introduce space standards, for example, will be key to the success of the policy in reducing red tape and costs."

Related links:

Housing standards review consultation

Image: Courtesy of Liberal Democrats

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