Coalition Government throws local control over building standards onto its Bonfire of regulations

As a result of the Coalition government’s bonfire of regulations, earlier this year Councils lost an important right to specify higher energy efficiency standards.

For a government committed to a localising agenda, this is odd.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee criticised this proposal last November, but the Coalition Government turned a deaf ear and went ahead with it.

This coincided with the Coalition government’s decision to wind down the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Instead, the Coalition government has introduced a new set of national building regulations.

Housing standards, including issues like accessibility, space standards, security, water and energy efficiency,will be set by national building regulations. Local authority planning policies will no longer have any role in setting them.

But in the new system, councils will be able decide whether to apply optional building regulations on issues including water efficiency and accessibility for disabled and older people, to developments being built in their areas.

Over the last years, housing standards for things like space and window size have become meaner, so that new UK houses are often cramped and dark compared to new houses in other European countries.

High energy efficiency standards in new buildings are vital if we are to have any chance of reducing the UK’s energy consumption. This is key to reducing carbon emissions from heating and lighting buildings, and so helping to mitigate human-caused climate change.

The Coalition government has spun the bonfire of building regulations as making it “easier and cheaper to build homes to a high standard”.

George Orwell called this doublespeak.

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