Will your new home meet the ‘green standard’?

Last week, the Government set out plans to cut the carbon footprint of new homes. As Extinction Rebellion take to the streets, disrupting cities around the country to draw attention to climate change, this seems a timely move.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has revealed plans to change the building regulations and develop a ‘Future Homes Standard’. This could ban gas boilers and oil heating from all homes built after 2025, replacing them with cleaner technology such as air source heat pumps and solar panels. Local authorities are also being asked to play their part in demanding better energy standards from developers.

To get a wide range of views on these proposals,  a consultation has been published looking at ways to drive down the carbon footprint of houses, including changes to ventilation and energy efficiency requirements. If you would like to put your views forward, you can download the consultation paper, which will run until January 2020, here.

Ahead of an Accelerated Planning Green Paper, to be published in November, Robert Jenrick also confirmed his aim to speed up the planning system. Proposals include:

  • fees to be refunded by councils if planning departments take too long to pass applications;
  • simplified planning guidance; and
  • a review of application fees to ensure that planning departments are properly resourced.

There are also moves to reduce the raft of planning conditions by a third and to promote the idea of building homes above existing buildings as well as demolishing old commercial buildings for new housing.

And that’s not all. Design is also in the spotlight.  New research from FJP Investment has revealed that homebuyers are less-than-impressed by new-builds. The independent survey of 1,000 homebuyers and property investors found that 50% of us feel UK new-builds are unattractive –  and 63% think they are “devoid of character”.

Plans for a new national design guide that aims to ensure delivery of “beautifully designed homes” could help. The new 64-page guide will identify ways to achieve good design, and will set out what developers need to do to get that all-important buy-in from local communities. There are also calls on for local authorities to develop their own design codes in line with their region’s character.

This all sounds like good news. Identikit boxes that attempt a vague nod at the local vernacular are all too common around the country. No wonder potential buyers aren’t impressed. Developers must work harder to build affordable, energy-efficient homes with genuine kerb appeal. If the new ‘green standard’ and (hopefully) streamlined planning rules go some way to achieving this then they must surely be a step in the right direction.