A committee of MPs has told the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that it should “think again” before axing the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH).
The code, which rates and certifies new homes against a national standard, is used in the design and construction phases of new homes and has encouraged and improved sustainable buildings. However, a government review into housing standards proposed winding it down.
Joan Walley MP, chair of the environmental audit committee, said, “The secretary of state [Eric Pickles] should think again before demolishing the Code for Sustainable Homes. The policy has been a big success in driving up home building standards, delivering local choice and supporting green exports.”
She added that the coalition agreement promised the government would return decision-making powers on housing and panning to local councils, but scrapping the code would get rid of local choice and benefit “developers who want to build homes on the cheap”.
The committee said that over the next decade, the number of households in England will increase by 10% and the construction of new homes needs to keep pace with demand. The review said this gave a “once in a generation opportunity to embed sustainability in the national housing stock through appropriate regulation”.
It recommended that the government should therefore maintain and refresh the CSH. This would result in thousands of new home being sustainable, saving homeowners money on bills, and support green exports and green growth, said the review.
Jo Wheeler, senior policy adviser at the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), commented, “The Code for Sustainable Homes has transformed the industry’s attitude to sustainability, and has been very helpful in setting out a clear direction for future standards.
“The time was right for review and rationalisation, but any changes must support the delivery of high quality homes.”
She added that the UKGBC believed that standards should be brought into building regulations as soon as possible, adding that the “government’s self imposed ‘one in two out’ rule is not a valid excuse to delay”.
The government is also facing criticism for its review into green levies on energy companies. Firms and organisations have said that that the review’s announcement has had a “devastating” impact on the energy efficiency industry.