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Zero Carbon Homes Loophole for housebuilders filled!

Fears that house builders will split large sites to out-manoeuvre the government’s exemption policy for Zero Carbon homes on small sites are totally unfounded, a major house builders group has stated. Andrew Whitaker, planning director at the Home Builders Federation acknowledged that there may be a temptation for house builders to amend the size of sites that could otherwise be marginally above the threshold, but went on to say that ” If you’ve got a site of hundreds of units, it wouldn’t be worth the effort”.

The proposal was announced in the Queen’s Speech and stated that small sites “which are most commonly developed by small scale house builders” will be exempt from having to meet the 2016 target for all new homes to be zero carbon. Steven Williams, a communities and Local government minster stated that the small homes exemption was needed because zero carbon homes standard represented a “bigger challenge for small house builders than for larger (ones). We will consult on how an exemption will work to ensure that it is targeted effectively and is proportionate” the statement went one.

Groups such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the UK Green Buildings Council (UKGBC) have expressed fears that the small sites exemption could result in both the breaking up of larger sites or developing them in phases so that thy fall under the threshold which int turn may well slow the delivery of homes – the very thing the policy is designed to prevent.

Paul King, Chief Executive of the UKGBC disagreed for the need for any such policy, pointing out that additional costs of building to the zero carbon standard have fallen dramatically over the last few years to around £3700 – £4700 on a typical semi-detached home,

JB Comments

I can appreciate that house builders searching to maximise profits will do what is needed to save on costs, especially the estimated  £3700-£4700 per unit which, although lower than a few years ago, still is a significant additional cost!  However, a general  greater awareness from local authorities will undoubtedly nip in the bud any manoeuvres by developers to phase or split sites. Setting the exemption threshold at 50 homes will only offer larger house builders an opportunity, whilst setting the exemption threshold for small sites at 10 units, as is the current excepted size threshold, will both limit these opportunities and ensure a greater number of sites are complying with policies set by our greenest government ever!

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