Last week, the Chancellor’s Spring Statement included a number of announcements relating to the housebuilding sector – PHPD takes a look at the headlines and gauges industry reaction.
Perhaps the headline from the Spring Statement for the housebuilding sector was the announcement of the introduction of a Future Homes Standard – mandating the end of fossil-fuel heating systems in all new houses from 2025.
Designed to build on the Prime Minister’s Clean Growth Grand Challenge mission to at least halve the energy use of new build property by 2030, the Future Homes Standard will also seek to halve the cost of renovating existing buildings to a similar standard as new buildings. Government has said that details of the new standard will be consulted on during 2019.
Plus there was also news of a new £3 billion Affordable Homes Guarantee scheme, to support delivery of around 30,000 affordable homes, a £717m housing infrastructure fund, and assistance so SMEs can take on more apprentices.
On housebuilding, Julia Evans, Chief Executive of BSRIA said: “It is heartening to see that The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has committed to delivering a set of strategies to boost house building.” On climate change she noted, “BSRIA is reassured that the Chancellor has put sustainable energy on the radar to combat climate change. His goal of all new homes to be heated sustainably from 2025 will help achieve this. The benefit of lower fuel bills for home owners is also a great boon. The overwhelming issue will be the adequacy of supply and the availability of infrastructure to support this.”
However, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has voiced its concerns about new biodiversity measures which, it believes, will result in more costs and more delays for small and medium-sized (SME) house builders.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Today the Chancellor claimed to support housing delivery but actions speak louder than words and the burdensome and poorly thought-through biodiversity targets for developers will bring yet more costs and more delays for builders.
“The Government wants to make developers, large and small, increase the biodiversity on their sites by a whopping 110 per cent and for an average site of ten units, the additional cost could be in excess of £2,000. Needless to say, this would also create delays to projects by adding additional hurdles for builders to negotiate during the already bureaucratic planning process.”
Commenting on the Affordable Homes Guarantee scheme, Bjorn Howard, Group CEO of housing association Aster Group, said: “The new £3bn fund is a vitally needed sign of support for affordable housing. Having the right mix of homes in the market is crucial to meeting the needs of those people who are most acutely affected by the housing crisis. The government has acknowledged that and the investment announced in the Spring Statement should help fuel affordable alternatives to expensive private rent and traditional ownership.
“It was also positive to see the government recognise the need to unlock land in areas of the south of England like Didcot through the £717m housing infrastructure fund. Housing associations will continue to play an important role in building more homes and we look forward to hearing more detail on how this affordable housing fund will be delivered.”
Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) said: “We welcome the commitment to a Future Homes Standard by 2025 and new requirements for low carbon heat in new homes. It is vital that this is accompanied by truly world-leading energy efficiency standards, in line with the CCC’s recent recommendations.”
Alex Goodfellow, Group Managing Director, Stewart Milne Timber Systems commented: “The Government’s planned introduction of a Future Homes Standard by 2025 – to ensure all new build homes are future-proofed with low-carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency – is welcome news for the housebuilding and offsite timber frame industry.
“In order for Government energy/carbon and housing targets to be met efficiently, it’s important that the initial focus is on the energy efficiency of the building fabric before adopting low and zero carbon technologies.”
Max Halliwell, Communications Manager of Mitsubishi Electric Heating & Ventilation Systems, also welcomed the Chancellor’s announcements. He said: “We welcome the comments made today by the Chancellor and see this as a real acknowledgment that the way we heat our homes is no longer fit for purpose. The announcement of the Future Homes Standard – to end fossil fuel heating systems in all new homes from 2025 – is certainly a step in the right direction.”