House of Lords calls for built environment tsar

Aaron Morby 2 years ago

A House of Lords Committee set up to scrutinise housing policy is warning the Government will miss its target of building 240,000 homes a year if it relies on private developers alone.

A position of chief built environment advisor could work across government departments to champion higher standards and good practice

Its influential report published today urges the Government to radically rethink its present policy and open the door to far greater local authority and housing association delivery.

Also the committee wants to see a new role of Chief Built Environment Advisor created to work across government departments to integrate planning policy and act as a champion for higher standards and good practice.

Controversially it also wants the Government to reverse its decision to scrap zero carbon homes to get the country back on track to delivering sustainable quality developments.

Baroness O’Cathain, chairman of the Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment, said: “If we build houses in the wrong place, to a poor standard, without the consent of local communities we are only storing up future misery for the people in those houses and others nearby.

“That is why we are recommending local authorities are once again empowered both to build new homes of their own, and to ensure all developments are of a suitably high quality.”

She urged the Government to ease borrowing restrictions on local authorities and review its own decision to reduce social rents, a key source of funding for local housing provision. 

The report also warns that the focus on the speed and quantity of housing developments poses a threat to sustainable planning for the long-term, quality, design standards and place-making.

“Spending a little bit extra on good quality design at the outset can avert massive costs to people, society and Government in the long-run.

“The Government should review the National Planning Policy Framework to make sure developers aren’t using financial viability to play fast and loose with design quality and sustainability.

“If developers submit substandard plans local authorities should be able to ask them to think again without builders falling back on questionable viability assessments to get their way,” she said.

House of Lords Built Environment Select Committee Report

Key recommendations

  • The Government should stop including ‘starter homes’ within the definition of affordable housing as they cease to include any element of affordability after five years. The present approach distracts from delivering genuinely affordable housing for the long-term.
  • Reconsider additional elements of the Housing and Planning Bill which would undermine the maintenance of mixed communities.
  • Appoint a Chief Built Environment Advisor to champion higher standards in built environment across Government departments.
  • The Government should reverse its decision to do away with the zero carbon homes requirement and Code for Sustainable Homes.
  • Revise the National Planning Policy Framework to reduce the unreasonable use of viability assessments by developers to avoid funding affordable housing and infrastructure. 
  • Local communities and local authorities to be empowered to demand high standards from developers.
  • Make design review mandatory for all major planning applications, in order to offset the long-term burdens and costs of poor quality design.

Latest news

Vinci UK profits soar despite £18m civils loss

Profit boost from land disposal offsets further losses at Taylor Woodrow
21 hours ago

£36m Cardiff student block set for planning OK

Crosslane gets go-ahead for 384-bed scheme
15 hours ago

Stalled Angelgate site put up for sale

Land earmarked for blighted Manchester resi scheme to go under auctioneer's hammer
16 hours ago

FRC launches probe into Carillion finance directors

Investigation into Richard Adam and Zafar Khan over preparation of financial accounts back to 2014
22 hours ago

Kier set for £48m Pirbright animal virus research lab

Work due to start before end of 2018 on the high containment large animal facility
21 hours ago

Wates sees order book swell to record £5.1bn

Contractor confident about future prospects as it offers new roles to former Carillion staff
22 hours ago

Engie to start stripping cladding on East London tower blocks

Canning Town and Plaistow Tower housing blocks get reclad go-ahead
21 hours ago

Boost your online presence with the new Enquirer Directory

New site for suppliers and buyers will showcase their products, services and latest stories
3 weeks ago

Passer-by raises safety alarm over solar panel contractor

Director and contractor fined after ignoring safety warnings
21 hours ago

RSK buys ground investigation specialist

Central Alliance is latest deal in acquisition spree by consultant
4 days ago

Plans in for Cheesegrater’s big brother in London

Tapering skyscraper at 100 Leadenhall will tower over the Cheesegrater
4 days ago

Vast £1.6bn South London estate rebuild approved

Clapham Park to be built out with 2,500 homes in mid-rise blocks
4 days ago

BESA appoints David Frise as new chief executive

Former submariner takes the helm at the Building Engineering Services Association
4 days ago

ISG clinches £17.5m Bradford leisure centre

Sedbergh sports and leisure facility will contain a 25m pool, gym
4 days ago

Berkeley unable to boost construction of new homes

Housing giant blames market conditions as it predicts £3.3bn profit in five years to 2021
4 days ago

Balfour Beatty tipped for £200m London student/office scheme

Landmark Vine Street project could become Balfour's second major contract with Urbanest
4 days ago

VolkerWessels UK margins edge up to 3.2%

Profits and order book grow by 7% on back of rising infrastructure spend
4 days ago

Weston Homes submits 1.2m sq ft Norwich scheme

Anglia Square scheme will provide over 1,000 homes, 40 shops and a 200-bed hotel
4 days ago

Network Rail seeks two geotechnical firms for £190m north deal

Scottish and North East earthworks delivery places up for grabs
4 days ago

Search to start for £400m Southend regen partner

Council searching for development partner to build 1,300 homes
5 days ago

Kier lifted by McNicholas deal in first half

Kier says claims and final account still to be settled on challenging Mersey Gateway project
5 days ago

Betting Spy: Man City can win Champions League

City look a good bet at 3/1 to go all the way
5 days ago

Buckingham to build giant fridge at Dover port

Contractor wins race for £15m Refrigerated Cargo Terminal
5 days ago

Hydrock places remediation arm into administration

Up to 95 jobs at risk as Bristol-based QDS Contracting collapses
6 days ago

Balfour supplier hit by Hinkley contract delays

Engineering specialist Redhall hampered by delays to nuclear deal
5 days ago

£120m Glasgow police HQ to flats scheme approved

Moda Living is planning over 400 private rented flats
6 days ago

Worker loses finger at builders merchant

Welsh firm fined after glove gets caught in table saw
5 days ago

Hill secures £200m finance to deliver 5-year plan

House builder on recruitment drive as it plans to raise revenue to £1bn by 2023
6 days ago

Alumasc sounds profit warning over project delays

Shares slump 20% as commercial new build demand dips
6 days ago

Balfour Beatty UK construction arm returns to profit

Contractor continues turnaround despite Aberdeen bypass problems
6 days ago

Contractor services