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New guidance for Part L of the Building Regulations is late, and there are mounting industry concerns that the next version of the Regulations may not come into force until April 2014.  A delay will have knock-on effects for any planning policies predicated on the Government’s zero carbon homes timetable.

An example is the London Plan Cross Cutting Policy 5.2. This sets targets for reducing the carbon emissions for new developments. In the current London Plan, the wording for Residential Buildings states:

 

Year                   Improvement on 2010 Building Regulations: 

2010-2013           25% per cent (Code for Sustainable Homes level 4);  

2013-2016           40% per cent

 

2013 is mentioned twice here, which is rather ambiguous. Although not explicitly stated in the text, one significant reason was that the policy was intended to step forward in 2013 along with the anticipated changes to Part L of the Building Regulations. When the policy was formulated, the 2013 Regulations were expected to include a 25% reduction over the 2010 standards. The London Plan would then stay ahead of national minimum standards by asking for a further 20% reduction beyond this (40% over the 2010 standard).

Since the policy was formulated, matters have changed. For one, the current most likely outcome is that the 2013 Regulations (should we say Part L 2014?) will only call for an 8% improvement over 2010. Furthermore, the NPPF has now come into force. This states that local authorities when setting any local requirement for a building’s sustainability, do so in a way consistent with the Government’s zero carbon buildings policy and adopt nationally described standards.(Page 22, Paragraph 95).

We have learnt that the GLA have recently advised some local authorities that they should implement the switch over from 25% reduction to 40% reduction this year at their own discretion. That guidance is in the spirit of sustainability policy being decided at the local level. However, it is going to lead to a patchwork of different interpretations across London. This this will be reflected nationally as Local Authorities try to put in place their own sustainable Local Plans during a period in which CO2 targets, the timescales and the Regulations themselves are in a state of flux.

Posted on July 2nd, 2013