Developers will be encouraged to build to greener standards and make homes cheaper to heat and run, under changes announced this week by Housing Minister John Healey.
New measures aimed to support the industry in the current recession will also give developers more time to start building and further flexibility to adapt plans. These include a simpler and cheaper way of extending the life of planning consent, which has been introduced to deal with the sharp drop-off in the number of permissions that are being taken up.
Currently, permissions that are not used expire automatically, usually after three years. If developments can’t be built because of economic conditions it could delay economic recovery, as those schemes would have to be reapplied for when conditions pick up.
The consultation on changes to the Building Regulations aims to deliver the first step towards zero-carbon buildings and carbon savings of over 3 million tonnes a year from 2020. An important plank of the government’s commitment to tackling climate change, the proposals would require a 25 per cent improvement in energy-efficiency standards for new homes and other buildings from October 2010. This will require better insulation and draught-proofing, better low-energy lighting and more efficient boilers. The higher energy-efficiency standards will also mean lower fuel bills lower — by up to £100 a year for an average home.
“While it is right that we have taken action now to help people and businesses struggling with the economic downturn, we need to also stay focussed on the long term and step up action to tackle climate change,” Healey said. “In the UK we know that nearly half of our carbon emissions come from our buildings, 27 per cent come from our homes and a further 17 per cent from other non-domestic buildings. So we must build our homes to a better, greener standard. We are leading the way globally, with our ambitions for zero-carbon homes and buildings.”