Planning bill giving councils right to impose tougher eco standards ‘endangers housing delivery’

Slaughter: public should be asked
Slaughter: public should be asked

Developers have attacked proposals in the planning bill to allow councils to impose their own planning policies.

Housebuilders said the move could make it more difficult for them to build the 240,000 homes a year that the government says are essential to meet future need.

The bill allows councils to impose local requirements before granting planning permission, such as energy efficiency standards that are higher than Part L of the Building Regulations.

If these changes aren’t properly tested, they might affect the delivery of housing

John Slaughter, HBF

These policies, which are contained in supplementary planning documents, do not have to be tested by public inspection. Currently councils are required by the government to consult on proposals in public.

John Slaughter, director of external affairs at the Home Builders Federation (HBF), said the new powers raised the prospect of ever more councils trying to force through increases in environmental standards.

The HBF says about 80 councils are imposing standards in excess of regulations, and that more than 100 councils are following the lead of Merton council in south London by imposing rules requiring the use of onsite renewable generators.

Slaughter said: “If these changes aren’t properly tested in the local plan process, they’re not going to be robust and they might affect the delivery of housing numbers.”

The bill will also set up a system of local planning charges, and measures to speed up the planning regime for major infrastructure projects (see box). But it gives little detail of how the local planning charge, to be called the “community infrastructure levy”, will work.