A new green standard for new build homes aims to bring an environmental revolution to home building, in the hope of combating climate change while keeping household bills low
Unveiled by the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, the Future Homes Standard will see polluting fossil fuel heating systems such as gas boilers banned from new homes by 2025 and replaced with the latest generation of clean technology – such as air source heat pumps and cutting-edge solar panels.
The government has also announced plans for a new national design code that will ensure developers build beautiful, well-designed homes that people are proud to live in.
In the coming months, every single local authority across the country will be expected to produce their own design guide which reflects their unique setting, character and history, while meeting the expected national standard.
Jenrick said: “Building new homes isn’t just about bricks and mortar, I want to ensure everyone – including developers – do their bit to protect the environment and give the next generation beautiful, environmentally friendly homes that local communities can support.
“That’s why I am requiring carbon emissions are cut by up to 80% from 2025 for all new homes and have published a National Design Guide, setting out simply what we expect from new development.”
Future Homes Standard
The government has launched a consultation on stronger building regulations that will pave the way for the Future Homes Standard.
The 2020 changes aim to improve the environment by cutting carbon emissions in new homes by almost a third, while keeping bills low.
Using new technologies such as air source heat pumps and the latest generation of solar panels, developers will need to ensure they are doing their bit to tackle the threat of climate change.
Views are being sought on how changes to building regulations can drive down the carbon footprint of homes built after 2025 – including changes to the ventilation and efficiency requirements as well as the role of councils in getting the best energy standards from developers. The consultation will run until January 2020.
John Alker, director of policy and places at UKGBC, said: “With the UK now legally bound to deliver net zero carbon emissions across the economy by 2050, as a nation we can no longer avoid the crucial role that new homes play in helping to meet this target.
“This announcement sets out a new and extremely welcome level of ambition from the government, which should see a significant improvement in carbon reductions from new homes in 2020, and important clarity on further improvement in 2025.
“It is also encouraging to see a recognition from Government of the importance of clarity for businesses in the construction sector. By setting out a ‘roadmap’ towards the Future Homes Standard in 2025, this should provide confidence in the direction of travel. Many in the industry are still scarred by the scrapping of the Code for Sustainable Homes and Zero Carbon Homes policy in 2015, so Government must learn lessons from that, and be absolutely rock solid in its commitment to this agenda.
“There is much work still to do on the detail of these announcements, and there are further challenges ahead associated with addressing the performance gap, unregulated energy and the embodied carbon of new developments. But at long last, it appears as though we are heading in the right direction.”
Accelerated planning green paper
The government has also confirmed proposals to speed up the planning system, including the potential for more fees to be refunded if councils take too long to decide on specific planning applications.
The move will benefit all planning applicants, from housing developers to individual householders seeking to extend or modify their own home, as it ensures councils work at pace to decide proposals.
Local residents will no longer have to contend with a complicated and outdated planning system, but a more user-friendly approach designed to simply the process. Small developers will similarly benefit from the simplification of guidance, with the introduction of a new tiered planning system.
Application fees will also be reviewed to ensure council planning departments are properly resourced, providing more qualified planners to process applications for new homes and other proposals.
The accelerated planning green paper will be published in November 2019. Government has also set out its ambition to reduce planning conditions by a third, and will take forward proposals to allow homes to be built above existing properties as well as seeking views on demolishing old commercial buildings for new housing, revitalising high streets in the process.
The first-ever government-backed National Model Design Code will be published in the New Year, and will set out a clear model for promoting better design and style of homes across the country, shaped by what local people want.
The government has been clear that new builds must fit into existing communities, which means they are more likely to be welcomed by residents and provide places people will love to call home.
A new National Design Guide has also been published today, setting out a blueprint for how local authorities can achieve quality and great design and recommends what developers need to deliver to help win the support of communities – ensuring new homes are built quicker and better.