The Government yesterday published its revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The new NPPF highlights the need for quality as well as quantity in the building of new homes. Crucially, in its summary response to the consultation, the Government has clarified its position on local authorities setting higher energy requirements than those currently contained within Part L of the Building Regulations:

A number of local authority respondents stated the view that the text in the revised Framework restricted their ability to require energy efficiency standards above Building Regulations. To clarify, the Framework does not prevent local authorities from using their existing powers under the Planning and Energy Act 2008 or other legislation where applicable to set higher ambition. In particular, local authorities are not restricted in their ability to require energy efficiency standards above Building Regulations. The Government remains committed to delivering the clean growth mission to halve the energy usage of new buildings by 2030.

Government response to the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework consultation p.48

The need for clarity on this issue was the subject of a recent joint letter from UKGBC, Core Cities UK and UK 100 to the former Housing Minister Dominic Raab MP.

John Alker, Director of Policy and Places at UKGBC said:

For too long local authorities have been unclear about whether they could set higher standards on carbon reductions for new homes, with many erring on the side of caution and reluctantly watering down their planning policy requirements. Having strongly advocated freedom for cities and local authorities to take a leadership role, UKGBC is delighted that Government has issued a decisive position, providing clarity for local authorities and giving the green light to go further than national minimum requirements.

We look forward to working with ambitious local authorities to encourage a consistent approach that can act as a trailblazer for national policy, jump-starting our journey to a genuinely net zero carbon built environment.

In March this year UKGBC, in association with Core Cities UK, published a Policy Playbook designed to help local authorities drive up the sustainability of new homes. The Playbook focuses on energy and carbon, mitigating overheating risk and assuring performance. Today, the Playbook has been updated to reflect the changes to the new NPPF and is available to download for free on the UKGBC website.

This response is in reference to a specific section of the Government’s NPPF. UKGBC shall be making further comment on the revised NPPF in due course.