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Part L will hinder housing supply, says industry

New building regulation standards will add costs and threaten to choke off the fragile housing recovery.
That’s according to the house building industry, which believes that the reforms to Part L of the Building Regulations, which the Government has confirmed will be delayed until April 2014, will still hit smaller developers first, putting them at a disadvantage to major volume builders.

The new regulations will involve a fresh target for fabric energy efficiency and a 6% improvement on 2010 standards.

This is lower than the 8% target originally considered and housebuilders will continue to have flexibility in how they approach carbon targets.

But a fabric energy efficiency target will be introduced to emphasise the importance of achieving a sound building fabric.

The update is intended as a step towards the Government’s ultimate goal of “zero carbon homes” by 2016.

Brian Berry, the chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, warned the new standards will hit smaller developers harder and faster than the rest of the industry:

“FMB surveys of house-builders indicate the cost implications for smaller developments will be significantly above those estimated by the Government’s impact assessments.

“In a still fragile housing market, in which homebuyers are not prepared to pay the extra for energy efficiency, these extra costs will continue to come off the bottom line of builders, threatening the viability of many developments and further hindering hopes of a boost in housing supply.

“Smaller house-builders without large banks of prior planning consents will be hit first by these changes,” he warned.

Berry added: “We support the idea that ‘zero carbon’ should be the end destination, but the timetable for achieving it must be realistic and deliverable.

“The overwhelming feeling in the industry is that policy is running well ahead of the industry’s ability to deliver on these commitments.”

Mike Leonard, CEO of the Modern Masonry Alliance, said: “We are disappointed that the government has failed to heed the advice of the Futures Group and the Modern Masonry Alliance, who both warned that a change to part L in the Building Regulations in the near future risks a failure to learn the lessons emerging from Part L 2010.

“Furthermore, it will impose a cost burden on SMEs, which will further damage their prospects of re-entering the housing market.

“The coalition government gave absolute commitment not to increase the regulatory burden on SMEs, so this goes down as another broken promise.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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