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Next steps to zero carbon homes - Small sites exemption

Date: 5/1/2015

RESPONSE BY THE PLANNING OFFICERS SOCIETY

  • Should the exemption be targeted at site size, developer size, or a combination of both? Do you have any any evidence to support the choice made?
    • Developer Size
    • Whilst POS believes there are better ways of supporting small businesses, if the exemption is to support the Government's aim of supporting small business, the developer size threshold should apply. However, the Government would need to provide guidance on how a Building Control Officer would determine the company size and whether the small developer is simply a subsidiary company within a larger development company. A site size approach would provide an exemption regardless of company size and does not necessarily reflect the amount of development to be delivered. In this regard, floorspace would better reflect the amount of development being delivered.
  • If you chose site size or both, do you think that site-size should be measured by floor area or by number of units or by a combination of both?
    • Both
    • If site size is the government's preferred approach a combination of both floor area and the number of units would ensure a fair application to developers who construction particularly large or small units. The threshold should be the same as that for major developments in the planning system, less than 10 dwellings. The floorspace threshold should be less than 1000sqm of floorspace which has some equivalence.
  • If you chose floor area or both, what size floor area would be most appropriate?
    • 100sqm per dwelling
    • Some local authorities assume a 100sqm per dwelling threshold to assess the potential of a development to accommodate 10 dwellings or more, and therefore fall within the definition of a major development under the planning regime. This would minimise any further burden or confusion for developers.
  • If you chose number of units or both, how many units would be the most appropriate threshold?
    • 10 units
    • This is to provide some consistency with the planning system and its definition of major developments. This would minimise any further burden or confusion for developers.
  • If the Government chose a developer size exemption, what criteria should it apply and why?
    • No numbers selected
    • A developer size exemption should be based on company turnover and profit so as not to restrict the level of employment and the amount of housing delivered, especially in more marginal locations. However, once again, the government would have to provide guidance to enable a Building Control Officer to determine this, and whether the turnover or profit is of the whole company or a subsidiary. Also, the employment level may be difficult to determine give the use of various types of permanent and temporary contracts.
  • What do you think the scope of the exemption should cover? An exemption from the allowable solutions scheme only, or an additional exemption from the Building Regulations requirements? Do you have any evidence to support the choice between these options?
    • An exemption from the allowable solutions scheme only
    • The exemption should be from the Allowable Solution element only. There are already many local authorities that require housing to be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and therefore achieving this standard of building performance has already been shown to be technical feasible and viable.
  • Do you agree that 5 years is an appropriate time-frame for reviewing the exemption?
    • No - Too long
    • If the 'Zero Carbon' standard is to apply to new homes from 2016, then the review period should be within four years or less in order to incorporate any European requirements relating to its 'nearly zero' definition which are due to come in by the end of 2020.


Celeste Giusti, Sustainability Subject Specialist, POS

 

5th January 2015

 

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