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The Code for Sustainable Homes – Update on it’s demise

The Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH) was introduced in 2007 and at the present time remains the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes in England and Wales.

However, on August 20th 2013 the government published the Housing Standards Review Consultation in relation to the rationalisation of the framework of building regulations and local housing standards. This outlined two potential routes the government was considering for the implementation of new, consolidated standards:

·         A set of ‘nationally described standards; or

·         Fully integrating the standards proposed in the review into the Building Regulations (England).

The overall aim of this policy is to prevent local and national housing standards being unnecessarily complex and overlapping or contradicting each other, or parts of the Building Regulations. With regard to the Code for Sustainable Homes, the government proposed to wind down the role of the Code with the possibility of new national standards for:

·         Accessibility

·         Space

·         Domestic Security

·         Water Efficiency

 In March 2014 the government announced the results of the consultation and issued a Ministerial Letter outlining proposals for the simplification of residential sustainabilitystandards, including; consolidating requirements into the Building Regulations and making amendments to the Planning and Energy Act 2008 to remove local authority’s ability to set energy standards above Building Regulations the letter stated,  “We propose a “Building Regulations only” approach, with no optional additional local  standard in excess of the provisions set out in Part L of the Regulations.”

 The latest Housing Standards Review Technical Consultation launched in September 2014 sets out transitional arrangements for the inclusion of sustainability standards relating to water efficiency, waste storage, access and security into the Building Regulations as well as a new national space standard. The consultation confirms government’s plan for winding down of the Code for Sustainable Homes from early 2015 prior to introduction of the national Zero Carbon Buildings policy.

 The government is intending to release a statement response to the consultation alongside updated Building Regulations and from that point it is expected that local planning authorities should not reference the Code for Sustainable Homes or include any policies, technical requirements other than those contained in the building regulations and approved documents. It is anticipated the Code  for Sustainable Homes will be wound down from the time the statement is made and from that point no new plan policies should refer to the Code. The consultation also states that local planning authorities should consider their existing plan policies on housing standards and update these as appropriate.

The ministerial statement  accompanying the latest consultation highlights that it is crucial these new systems bed in quickly, and that local authorities and developers recognise the weight that government gives to the approach to housing standards.

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