PBC Today July 2015

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The raft of planning reforms announced in the Treasury’s Productivity Plan are meant to be a boon to housing supply and include a commitment to bring forward brownfield land for redevelopment. Brownfield land can be subject to contamination or infrastructure constraints that make them too costly to develop profitably, so where else do we build? Amanda Beresford, Head of Planning at corporate law firm Shulmans provides her thoughts in this edition on how the two objectives of increasing housebuilding and protecting the green belt can be reconciled.

Staying with the housing shortage theme, Dr Tim Fox, Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers argues that one other solution to the UK’s housing crisis (once the land is secured!) could lie in the off-site construction sector. He argues that off-site construction technologies have advanced greatly in recent years and can offer shorter build times, better quality, better energy efficiency, less waste and lower costs for buyers.

Moving on to the BIM machine, our coverage is as extensive as ever. In this edition, Duncan Reed, Digital Construction Process Manager at Tekla (UK) Ltd, discusses the benefits of adopting BIM for planning and building control decision making. I also spoke to Dave Jellings, Solibri UK Managing Director and board member of buildingSMART UK and Ireland. We discussed the need for an open communication standard and why it is a fundamental requirement for successful BIM. This requirement is something that buildingSMART are focussing on.

The Housing Standards Review (HSR) also comes into focus in this issue. I was invited to the NHBC Building Control Industry Support Group (BCISG) meeting to uncover what concerns major builders have with regard to the HSR. Please read the outcome of that meeting on pages 160-164. The announcement that the government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards has been met with a largely negative response. This announcement was made with no consultation and came as a surprise to much of the industry. As we finalise this edition, over 200 business and industry leaders have written to George Osborne urging him to reconsider the decision. Apparently, the government “will keep energy efficiency standards under review, recognising that existing measures to increase energy efficiency of new buildings should be allowed time to become established”.

PBC Today would welcome your thoughts on this, and any other issue that you feel requires further discussion.

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