Research conducted by the Futures Network of the Housing Forum in November 2022 revealed some concerns related to the chances of meeting the Future Homes and Buildings Standards set out by the UK government. The targets have a deadline of 2025. One in five members surveyed in the research believed that their organization does not have a plan to deliver homes in line with the 2025 emissions targets. Three of the four members surveyed believe that the industry lacks the skills and knowledge required to meet the target set by the government within the next 10 years.
The Federation of Master Builders mentioned that less than half its members were ready to comply with the new regulations.
The government has to grapple with multiple issues this year from economic to environmental to housing. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities is trying hard to gain political support for its recent amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. The commitment of the top leadership of the government is hazy. The PM is still undecided on whether to give more importance to the climate issues or the economic crisis. The transformation of investment zones by PM Sunak indicates more support for the environment by this administration. The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, stated, anything that might in any way undermine environmental protections is out.
Will meaningful progress be made in planning law to deal with climate emergencies while accommodating developers’ concerns?
One positive development is that the fuel crisis has accelerated customer acceptance of energy-efficient heating systems. In the past, buyer sentiment was the most significant resistance to using only non-gas boilers. Buyers were apprehensive about maintaining air source heat pumps. They also didn’t want to be tagged as early adopters. In recent times, many residents have started supporting new technologies. Authorities now have to deal with issues like installing and maintaining air-source and ground-source heat pumps. There are technicians available for installing non-gas boilers, but few know how to install pumps powered by emerging technologies. There is a pressing need for technicians with specialist knowledge of the latest systems.
Another matter of concern among the local authorities is whether the new technology will be as effective as expected.
These developments may not impact planning applications in the current pipeline. However, they will certainly impact future applications where net zero will be required. Emerging requirements for net zero should be considered at the site promotion stage for successful implementation. The legislation also has not been beneficial in this matter. The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill can potentially deliver sustainable new developments featuring energy-efficient housing. It can help address fuel affordability, health, well-being, and sustainability issues. But the Bill is not making any progress through Parliament and may not feature in the Statute Book of this government.
The Housing, Communities, and Local Government Select Committee published a report almost a year ago about concerns that the Government would fail to hit its 2050 net zero targets unless it engaged more effectively with councils across various areas. They had urged the Government to give more prominence to net zero in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). However, the proposed revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework, published for consultation in December 2022, did not mention anything. Recently developed local plans have taken measures to include policies for better management of environmental issues. However, many such measures have been stalled because of factors like nutrient neutrality, moratoriums, and political indecision on housing targets and under-resourcing.
Undoubtedly, the government must be fully equipped to deal with the combined forces of housing, financial and environmental demands. They face the challenge of creating an adverse impact on climate change if they go ahead with the housing development measures. As always, new regulations present new challenges across the development sector which are already plentiful. Balancing sustainable development, existing infrastructure strain, ecology, nimbyism, inflation, and now the Net Zero goals against the vast housing demand is the principal battleground of our sector. At the coal face of land acquisition, this will invariably have a strain on margins. It has never been more important to approach specific landowners for specific development proposals, where the expertise of developers can mitigate associated costs, and policy constraints and best values can be proposed to encourage landowners to part with their land, secure in the knowledge that they have maximized developable value and the war against the housing crisis can go on.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
Strategic partnerships, holistic delivery/ opportunities, growth, value engineering, thought leadership
Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
Runs HQ & site lease-up teams. Drives rent pricing, mobilisation, marketing, happy residents!
Jon Curtis MRICS Head of Building Engineering
Chartered Building Surveyor. Lectures on EWS1 & building safety. Runs CapEx programmes.
Kate Robinson MIRPM MD Blocks/FM Management (London Region)
Master plan setup, ops and staffing and resident engagement. ISO45001 champion.
Lee Harle Partner Ringley Law
Plot conveyancing. Debt litigation. Group Company Secretary.
Anthony Kingdon MIRPM AssocRICS MD Blocks/FM Management (North Region)
Stakeholder engagement. Mixed tenure specialist. Budget management. Plant audit, PPM compliance.
Chris Georgalis MRICS Head of Commercial Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental valuations: retail, leisure. IRR modelling and valuations for secured lending. Compulsory purchase & rent reviews
Nichola Pughe MRICS Head of Residential Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental development & mixed use valuations, IRR modelling. Leasehold enfranchisement specialist
Libby Chen MSc Compliance Manager
Operational Plant & Equipment strategy PPM Compliance lead, Asset tagging Client major projects
Dipesh Parekh Director PlanetRent
Customer centric, vertically integrated PropTech/fin-tech solutions.
Leana Aristodemou MIRPM MARLA AssocRICS Strategic lead: ESG & Asset Business Plan delivery
Financial modelling, valuation analyst to support underwriting & fund reporting.
Natalie Birmingham Helpdesk Support Manager
Trainer & Helpdesk Manager: people, systems,contractors. ISO45001 supply chain accreditation.
Steve Norman Planning Director
Land due diligence (opportunities & constraints) Has contributed to a number of award winning schemes.