Sunday, 19 April 2015

Idea will feature in ‘radical’ but delayed regulatory overhaul

Government to propose minimum space standard

Proposals for a controversial space standard in new homes will form part of an overhaul of house building regulations.

In a win for the Liberal Democrats, which have been pushing for the introduction of a new minimum space standard in housing, Inside Housing understands the Communities and Local Government department is set to include the idea as part of a sector-wide consultation to be published next week.

The consultation is expected to strip out overlapping regulation and meet the government’s aim of ‘significantly rationalising’ building standards in key areas such as space, energy, security, and accessibility in order to make development simpler and cheaper.

However, the proposal of a new space standard will be contentious and opposed by development bodies, such as the Home Builders Federation, which argues it will increase costs.

London is the only place in the UK with legal minimum space standards for both social and private housing. Elsewhere, minimum standards apply only to social housing.

The proposal caused splits in a 16-body, government-commissioned expert panel, which reported its recommendations to the CLG along with a four-person challenge panel at the end of April. It has since led to wrangling between departments, and been pushed for by Lib Dem communities minister Don Foster with the backing of the architecture lobby.

The publication of the consultation has been pushed back twice as ministers have struggled to agree the content.

Sources said the cabinet office - which is keen to reduce the cost burden on developers to boost house building as part of a Whitehall ‘red tape challenge’ - was disappointed with the outcome of the exercise and had wanted it to be more ‘radical’.

At the heart of the divisions have been tensions over whether building standards should be nationally set and the resulting impact of the changes on the principle of localism.

House builders argue locally set standards will increase costs and red tape.

The story so far

26 October 2012
Inside Housing reveals the government is to launch a review of building standards

31 October 2012
the government names expert and challenge panels to oversee the review

26 April 2013
Inside Housing reveals sector splits over how to overhaul building standards

April 2013
panel submits report to the CLG

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