Former Crest Nicholson boss leaves regeneration agency to advise housebuilders on going green

John Callcutt, chief executive of English Partnerships (EP), has parted company with the regeneration agency after six months.

Ruth Kelly, the communities secretary, announced this week that Callcutt, who was also the former chairman and chief executive of housebuilder Crest Nicholson, would lead a taskforce that would help housebuilders build low carbon homes while maintaining supply and meeting social housing needs.

Callcutt said he would not return to EP after the report was finished. He said:

“As it’s about delivery, one would expect there to be follow up work promoting its conclusions.”

John Walker, EP’s chief operating officer, will become interim accounting executive in January. Callcutt said the body would not be recruiting a permanent chief executive, adding fuel to the speculation that it will merge with the Housing Corporation in the near future.

The news came as Kelly unveiled a “green package” on Wednesday that included the delayed Code for Sustainable Homes and a plan to move to zero carbon homes by 2016.

A star rating system will be used to assess the sustainability of homes, based on energy, water, waste and materials. This will apply to all new homes and will range from one to six – six stars being zero carbon, and the lowest setting minimum acceptable standards.

The code will initially apply to publicly funded homes but from April 2008 all new homes will have to undergo an assessment.

Kelly also announced increases in the 2006 energy building regulations that would lead the shift towards zero carbon. These are:

  • 2010: 25% higher than 2006
  • 2013: 44% higher than 2006
  • 2016: zero carbon
Stewart Baseley, chairman of the Home Builders Federation, warned that the government should not set too many targets, saying the industry needs to “focus on the destination and not the stops along the way”.

In a controversial move, Kelly contradicted recommendations made by economist Kate Barker last week in her review of the planning system. She said: “My view is that existing green-belt policy has served us well, and I’m yet to be convinced that substantial policy changes are needed.”

Improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings, as promoted in Building’s 99% campaign, was also a top priority, she said.

Other green measures include:

  • Every building in the country to have an energy performance certificate by 2009
  • The Design for Manufacture competition for affordable, sustainable homes to be launched by EP in the new year
  • Consultation on a planning policy statement on climate change, which will deal with low carbon local energy supplies.