Eric Pickles announces conclusion to Housing Standards Review

BRE reviews the statement from the Secretary of State in light of its implications on the Code for Sustainable Homes and its recently launched voluntary standard the Home Quality Mark.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, has announced the long awaited conclusion to the Housing Standards Review.  The review aimed to cut red tape for house builders and simplify government regulations and standards into one key set, driven by Building Regulations.

Along with amendments to current regulations, dual level Building Regulations for access and water are being introduced which will give local authorities some choice to require developers to build to different standards than the minimum requirements. Furthermore, with appropriate evidence, local authorities can also use the new space standards which make up the new national technical standards. There is also a new mandatory security regulation.

Government has also clarified the future of the Code for Sustainable Homes – the Government owned standard for sustainable house building.  Through changes to the 2008 Climate Change Act, Local Authorities in England will no longer be able to require levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes.  Where there are existing contractual arrangements, for example with Registered Social Landlords under the Affordable Funding Programme 2015-2018,   it will be possible to continue to certify and register against the Code. BRE Global will continue to support RSLs and private house builders who wish to continue with existing Code assessments as a means of differentiating themselves and proving sustainability across a wide range of areas.  At this point, due to the legacy arrangements registrations will remain open.

Gwyn Roberts, who is responsible for Housing Standards at BRE said, ‘The Code has been a catalyst for significant positive change in house building – it created a step change in standards, knowledge, products and skills within the sector.  However, the Code as a Government standard, hasn’t resonated with consumers as this is key to really driving the market further forward. BRE is now working  with the industry to do this.’

The announcement comes at the end of the month when BRE launched a new national voluntary standard – the  Home Quality Mark – which  aims to transform the way consumers choose the homes they buy and rent and allow house builders to differentiate themselves in the marketplace at a time of rapid growth. Working with insurance companies, mortgage providers and other institutions, it is clear that home builders who differentiate their product using the Home Quality Mark will see market recognition.

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