HBF warns government that proposed housing standards will lower the value of public land

Housebuilders have warned the government that stringent energy and space standards in housing will lower the value of land that ministers hope to sell to the private sector.

The controversy centres around plans by English Partnerships (EP), the government’s regeneration agency, for the 9,400 new homes it commissions each year. The proposals, which EP plans to implement from 1 November, include four strict targets for overheating, noise, space and civil engineering.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) wrote to EP earlier this summer outlining its concerns over the targets, which will see the maximum temperature permitted in bedrooms limited to 26°C. The figure for other living spaces will be 28°C.

An HBF spokesperson said this requirement would “clearly add to the cost of buildings”, but added that the “space issue is the most important factor”.

He added: “The issue for developers is that they won’t be able to charge more for larger homes and that increased space standards would negatively affect housing densities.

“Putting all of this together means developers won’t be able to make the same from the site and so would need to pay less for the land.”

Kevin McGeough, policy manager for design at EP, was reluctant to give full details of the proposed space standards, but said a two-bedroom home for four people would have to be at least 77m2.

He said: “Housebuilders are finding these targets a little more controversial than EP’s other proposals. There has not been a set of space standards since the Parker Morris ones in the sixties. We are treading very carefully with this but do want to ensure that there are minimum living space standards.”

A further 16 sustainability targets will be launched at the same time as the four new standards. These were first required for EP’s Design for Manufacture competition, which culminated earlier this year in the completion of the first homes.

McGeough added that he hoped to have the standards approved by EP’s board in September, ready for launch on 1 November.