Planning changes affecting new homes: new housing standards

Image of a new house being built

Historically, planning departments have been able to impose their own local technical standards for issues like security, access, water and energy efficiency and minimum sizes for dwellings. To reduce red tape on the housing industry, all these local powers have been removed.

The new housing standards will replace all of the local standards. Now local authority planners will have the option to set higher levels of compliance for new houses and flats constructed in their area, but these standards will be prescribed and be enforced under the Building Regulations.

In London alone developers used to have to cope with 12 different accessibility standards set by different boroughs! But this is now a thing of the past. Planning can’t ask for compliance with the ‘Code for Sustainable Homes’ any more; they’ll have to justify higher levels and these will be controlled by the building control body.

What Planning departments can do

  • Planning can apply ‘Nationally Described Space Standards’ to new dwellings; these dictate the size of rooms. These standards will still be checked by planning.
  • Planning can apply a condition for a higher standard of water efficiency if they’re in an area where water is scarce. Compliance will be checked by building control.
  • Planning can also ask for higher levels of accessibility so that people can adapt their homes in the future or, if the property is being built for a particular person, so that they have full access to the whole property.
  • The developer must tell the building control team if planning has applied any of these higher standards.

Access will be the main issue. If your local authority planners ask for these standards, it will result in much larger dwellings with more stringent new access requirements.

If you build houses or flats, watch this useful video for more information.


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