Introduction – Planning and Building Control Today

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Welcome to the April 2014 edition of Adjacent Planning and Building Control Today.

It’s been a busy few months with some headline-making events for the planning world. The Chancellor’s Budget extended Help to Buy, offering house builders greater certainty on delivering new homes. The National Housing Federation believe Help to Buy doesn’t go far enough, and Eric Pickles believes it will provide a much needed boost to house building – particularly for Brownfield land – but herein lies another issue – the threat to greenbelt. We present articles from the CPRE and The National Trust discussing the threat and the government’s failure to prioritise Brownfield land.

The NPPF arguments continue across the whole spectrum, with the Communities and Local Government Committee launching an inquiry into its operation. There has been much talk of the NPPF delivering ‘perverse behaviour’, blaming planning performance targets for the problems. The research conducted for the Committee identified ‘pinch points’ in the planning system affecting housing, and here, Michael Carnuccio of The National Housing Federation provides his thoughts on how the NPPF is influencing how local authorities deliver affordable housing (or not).

Another key NPPF (and greenbelt) contribution comes from Suzan Yildiz, Head of Planning at Olswang LLP. The article considers the emerging case law on the proper interpretation of key housing policies in a decision making context.

Planning is only half the story though. Our building control section has a major focus on the new Part L regulations, and we also look at energy efficiency issues in a wider context. Rob Pannell of the Zero Carbon Hub presents the initial findings of an industry-wide project that is investigating the causes of the energy ‘Performance Gap’ in new homes, and Nick Devlin and Sally Godber of the Passivhaus Trust highlight the principles of building to a Passivhaus standard as a method to address the ‘Performance Gap’ issue.

CDM is currently under the spotlight with The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) finally publishing the long awaited Consultation Document for their proposed changes to the CDM Regulations. James Ritchie of the APS delivers a detailed assessment of the new proposals, and questions why both the “government and the HSE think the only solution is wholesale change to a system”. The very short timeframe within which to respond is also a matter of some concern.

As ever, we have tried to include interesting and informative articles, but if you have ideas for future editions, please do get in touch.

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