Government confirms standards cut as part of ‘bonfire of red tape’

Industry is working to ensure Green Deal qualifi cations and accreditation procedures are in place to protect consumers

The Code for Sustainable Homes has been officially scrapped by the government as part of its ‘bonfire of red tape’ in the housebuilding sector.

The changes are the culmination of the Housing Standards Review, published last Friday, which aims to reduce the cost and complexity of building homes in England and stop the ‘pick and mix’ approach to housing standards by different local authorities in England.

The government claims it has cut housebuilding regulation by 90%.

The Code for Sustainable Homes allowed councils to adopt their own sustainability levels as a planning requirement for new residential development, with code level 3, 4, 5 or 6 as potential planning conditions.

Elements of the code will now be incorporated into building regulations, which will be retitled as “the new national technical standards” and set at the equivalent of a code level 4. BRE has said it will continue to certify schemes under the code and the body launched a new national quality mark for consumers to help them understand the code at the Ecobuild conference in earlier this year.

Speaking about the changes Simon McWhirter, sales and marketing director at Kevin McCloud’s HAB Homes said: “While an imperfect beast, the Code did bring benefits. It both drove down the environmental impact of new homes in the UK and stimulated a drop in pricing of residential renewable technology prices.

“And perhaps most importantly it gave local authorities the ability to stand up and demand homes of higher quality in their locale. A national standard such as Building Regs is eminently sensible, and useful, for national players, but ignores localism in decision-making. Now, as so often, a sudden policy shift has left a question mark over what is to come next.”

Chairman of PRP Architects Andy von Bradsky, who formed part of the challenge panel which advised on the Housing Review said: “It was always understood it [the Code] would wind down, despite the avalanche of final announcements by the government.

“The new rules have cleaned up ambiguities in the system, it’s a positive move forward but the government needs to do more. The Code has done a good job but had become a bit more complex in how compliance and overlapping and conflicting with other regulation.”