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DCLG recently announced that local planning authorities should not set policies relating to the construction, internal layout or performance of new dwellings in their local plans.

In summary the Statement confirmed:

  • The Code for Sustainable Homes is being formally withdrawn. Legacy cases, including projects with planning conditions or signed S106 requiring specific Code levels, or with funding requirements for the Code, will continue;
  • Energy (CO2 reduction) policies in local plans may exceed Part L up to the implementation of Zero Carbon in 2016, but should not exceed a Code level 4 equivalent. This has particularly interesting repercussions in London, where the London Plan (since 2010) requires much greater reductions in CO2. This will effectively represent a significant reduction in long established CO2 standards;
  • Local planning authorities may continue to apply existing policies on access, internal space or water efficiency up to 30 September 2015, from which date they will be interpreted by reference to the nearest new national technical standard;
  • Where there is an existing Code policy, the water use and energy targets will still apply;
  • Additional optional Building Regulations on water and access will apply from 1 October 2015, requirements for which are to be set in planning policy;
  • A new mandatory Building Regulation on security will take effect from 1 October 2015;
  • The requirement for new homes to be constructed to the new minimum National Space Standards would also apply through planning policy.

All wider energy and environmental issues, for example district heating, site-wide security, daylight & sunlight, external air quality, climate change adaptation and external noise are unaffected and will continue to be addressed through the planning process. These wider issues, together with our work on renewable energy and energy efficiency, will continue to form the basis of our energy and environmental services for the future.

While this is now set out as published Government policy, there is clearly much uncertainty as to its application, at least until the new Government is established in May. Due to the uncertainty around these issues we recommend contacting local authorities on individual planning applications.