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Column 12th January 2022

Parliamentary debate keeps up the profile of housing and infrastructure problems

In Westminster Hall last week David Johnston (our local MP) led a debate on the role of developers, housebuilders and management companies in new homes.

There were less than 20 MPs in the Hall but I guess it is a way of maintaining the profile of the issues.

As Mr Johnston said: "This is the biggest purchase that any of us will make, and we do not expect to then have years of trying to sort out the problems with it.

In the debate he said that:

“If I had to sum up the problems in my constituency, it would be, ‘Too many homes, too little infrastructure.’

“The two district councils that my constituency covers are, relative to their size, in the top 10 areas for house building in the country, yet they are in the bottom third for infrastructure spending.”

In the debate, he raised the issues of new homes quality, land banking (suggesting “use it or lose it” planning permissions), infrastructure first and environmental standards.

He suggested that companies are building houses to an environmental standard of several years ago, when they should be building to a standard of the future and that needs to change.

The debate went on for about 90 minutes and the only bit of good news came from Eddie Hughes (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities).

Mr Hughes stated that

“… we need to build homes that are as environmentally sound and low carbon in their production as possible.

“Just before Christmas, we introduced part L of the building regulations to improve the energy efficiency of homes.

“For a developer to make use of the transitional arrangements, they must have submitted an initial notice, a building notice or a full planning application to the local authority prior to the new regulations coming into effect in June 2022.

“They must then have commenced work on an individual building to which they want to apply the previous standards before June 2023.”

It’s a shame that these proposed changes in regulations don’t go far enough but simply require more efficient heating systems (including gas heating).

This means that new homes will still have heating systems which will need to be replaced within a few years.

Anyway I guess that we can see many full planning applications submitted prior to June 2022 and even more new homes started before June 2023 to avoid these regulations.


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