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Zero Carbon Standard: “Another case of stop-start Whitehall policy-making”

BMF managing director John Newcomb said: “The BMF did not ask for this and the sudden, unheralded change in direction raises more questions. For example, will it apply to residential and commercial property, or only new homes?”

“Regrettably, this is another case of stop-start Whitehall policy-making that shakes business confidence and damages any industry appetite to invest in low- and zero-carbon solutions to help improve cold, draughty homes and cut rising energy bills.”

Mr Newcomb said the efforts required to improve millions of homes by 2020 are unlikely to be completed.

Ministers announced a series of legislative changes and policy initiatives in recognising more has to be done to narrow the gap between housing supply & demand.

The other main announcements involving planning and development were:

Brownfield Land: a new law to enable the granting of automatic planning permission on all sites suitable for housing in England, as identified on statutory registers of brownfield land

Local Plans: many local authorities still do not have a Local Plan - ministers want new powers to intervene and have local plans written by central government where councils fail to do so

Duty To Co-operate: local authorities already have a duty to co-operate where they cannot meet their own housing need in full - ministers want stronger powers to compel councils to work together

Compulsory Purchase: ministers will legislate to make the CPO process clearer, fairer and faster

Timescales: moves to improve the performance of planning authorities in deciding cases (esp. minor ones) and penalties for those that make 50% or fewer planning decisions in time

Infrastructure: new rights for major projects that include new housing to be fast-tracked through the Nationally-Significant Infrastructure regime meaning it avoids the usual democratic process

Permitted Development Rights: new rights to allow property in London to be extended upwards, for limited number of storeys, up to the height of adjoining building, without needing prior approval

Mr Newcomb added: “What the BMF wants from Government is sensible ideas that boost the number and type of much-needed, un-contentious small-scale housing.  Anything done to encourage the return of small firms into the housing and home improvement markets is bound to be welcomed to merchants.”

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