Shapps slashes housing red tape

Aaron Morby 14 years ago
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Housing minister Grant Shapps has scrapped plans for stricter building regulations on Government backed housing, expected to cost developers an extra £8,000 for each home.

He also pledged to overhaul the complicated building standards that make it hard for developers to complete their projects.

Speaking at the National House Building Council annual lunch today, he said Government had dropped plans to introduce new design and sustainability core standards.

“Today is the first step of many towards reducing the unnecessary cost and hassle that the people who build our homes are forced to endure,” Shapps said.

“There’s no good reason why homes built on public land should be built any differently to those of high quality on private land.

“So I’m getting rid of this unnecessary requirement, and I’ll be working hard to make sure that, in the long run, the standards that apply to private and public housing are exactly the same.”

Shapps also pledged to end the ‘alphabet soup’ of local building standards and red tape that blight efforts to get developments started.

He said: “I’m also calling time on the cocktail of local building standards that developers have to meet, some of which are directly contradictory.”

The minister confirmed that the recent review of Building Regulations will be published shortly, and will continue as the mechanism to set national minimum standards.

The Government made a commitment in the Spending Review to reduce the overall regulatory burden on the house-building industry by March 2015, and today’s announcement is an important step towards this goal.

The minister invited the industry to come forward and help develop a new system for local standards so new development met the needs of local communities, without raising unnecessary costs for developers.

Currently house builders face a bewildering mix of building standards and codes that are attached to planning permissions.

Ministers believe these extra requirements are unnecessary ‘gold plating’, which can be contradictory and place additional costs on developers, making projects less viable.

In their place, the minister said he wanted house builders and councils to develop a simple and transparent menu of costed standards that will not place unrealistic burdens on developers.

He added: “House builders are the experts at building homes, so I’m inviting them to be in charge of developing a new framework for local building standards – one which enables communities to get the high quality homes they demand, but without causing unnecessary costs and delays for developers.”

House Builders Federation Executive Chairman Stewart Basely said: “It’s great that the Government has recognised the impact the cost of excessive regulation has on the supply of the homes the country desperately needs.

“We look forward to working with local and national government to create a simpler, less costly system which will go a long way to helping solve our housing crisis.”

The new local framework will be included in the National Planning Policy Framework, which will be introduced by the summer of 2012.

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