Sustainability is more than just a buzz word right now in the building industry. There are plans afoot to facilitate futureproofing of our homes in England by 2025. This has come about by the UK’s legally binding national target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, following the Government’s passing of the Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019. With more pressure to implement plans to tackle climate change, what is the Government proposing?
Future Homes Standard
The Government’s various initiatives to achieve this target include a consultation on the introduction of a “Future Homes Standard for England” (to be operable from 2025). The consultation is on the uplift to the standards in Part L of the Building Regulations (conservation of fuel and power) and changes to Part F (ventilation).
The uplift is the first step in achieving the Future Homes Standard, which aims to ensure the futureproofing of new build homes in England, with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. There will be transitional standards from 2020. The consultation closes on 10 January 2020.
Electric Vehicle Charge Points
This comes off the back of the Government’s recent consultation on electric vehicle (“EV”) charging in residential and non-residential buildings. Many developers have of course already embraced the principles of futureproofing by installing EV charge points in new developments.
The consultation aimed to go one step further, by proposing changes to building regulations setting out minimum standards for electric vehicle infrastructure, including a proposal for an EV charge point for each dwelling with an associated parking space. The results of the consultation are awaited.
Air quality has also been in the spotlight lately, in relation to planning permission for two residential developments on farmland in Kent, where two air quality management areas had to be taken into consideration.
The relevant case is Gladman Developments Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and others . It is a dispute that went all the way to the Court of Appeal. The Court concluded that although Gladman had proposed mitigation measures and financial contributions, including EV charge points and “green travel incentives” (calculated using a damage costs analysis model approved by DEFRA), the planning Inspector was still entitled to conclude that there was no clear evidence to demonstrate their likely effectiveness.
Gladman argued that because an appropriate arithmetical method had been used in calculating the level of financial contributions, it followed that the mitigation measures themselves should be deemed to be effective. This did not convince the Court. It was the lack of evidence of the actual effectiveness of the development’s mitigation measures that appears to have been Gladman’s downfall.
Where the circumstances of the site dictate it, hard evidence that air quality will not be compromised when land is redeveloped may be something house builders will need to give further consideration to following this ruling.
Regard for the environment, climate change, air quality and bio diversity are not passing social trends but are increasingly requiring commitments to new standards from developers. Building for a better future? Time will tell.
If you have any queries, please contact Baines Wilson’s Property team on 01228 552600.