The Conservative party should scrap Building Regulations and bring in a lower VAT for maintenance and repairs to green homes, according to a policy report.
The Quality of Life report recommends the abolition of Building Regulations in favour of a centralised National Building Standards system. This would apply both to new build and refurbishment and extension of existing buildings.
It also recommends an independent Building Standards Agency to replace building control departments in local authorities. Approved inspectors would provide certificates of compliance with the national standards.
The report also says the Conservatives should bring in a reduced or zero VAT rate for environmentally-friendly renovation and maintenance works. This has long been a demand of the Federation of Master Builders, the RICS, the RIBA and others. Development on brownfield land would also benefit from reduced VAT rates.
The establishment of a Department of Sustainable Growth, to oversee the green progress of industry, environment, planning and transport, is also recommended, as is streamlining of the planning system. This would involve: abolishing debate on national priorities at local inquiries; giving joint consideration of competing proposals for similar projects; and setting a one-month deadline for the government to respond to public inquiries.
The report, compiled by Conservative MP John Gummer and environmental activist Zac Goldsmith, was due to be launched at the RIBA yesterday.
For more on environmental issues, go to www.building.co.uk/sustainability