Grave concern about Grant Shapps Decision to scrap House Building Standards

publication date: Dec 1, 2010
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Grave concern about Grant Shapps Decision to scrap House Building Standards

Riba president Ruth Reed has expressed “serious concern” that the Homes & Communities Agency’s proposed Core Housing Standards will be abandoned.

Addressing the National House Building Council recently, housing minister Grant Shapps announced he was abandoning the Core Housing Standards.

The Homes & Communities Agency’s (HCA) has spent months developing the standards which would have applied to many of the homes built with government funding or on public sector land.

But Shapps said they would have cost developers an extra £8,000 for every home they built and said he want to give the housebuilding industry a filip.

He said: “Today is the first step of many towards reducing the unnecessary cost and hassle that the people who build our homes are forced to endure. Last year, housebuilding slumped to the lowest level in peacetime since 1924.

“We were in the midst of a recession, but the situation was made much worse by regional targets that forced developers into direct conflict with local communities, and compounded by the alphabet soup of regulations and red tape that housebuilders have to navigate.”

But Riba president Ruth Reed said: “This is a deeply troubling decision that will have profound implications for communities across the country.

“The proposed HCA standards were designed to raise the overall quality of publicly funded housing and ensure that new homes meet the most basic of lifestyle needs – reform was desperately needed.

“We agree that there is too much regulation in the housing sector, but the HCA standards were designed to harmonise regulation and provide clarity for industry. The government needs to ensure that it provides strong, clear guidance which underlines the importance of design quality, and we are concerned that the proposed menu of options for local authorities may lead to further confusion and lower standards.

“UK housebuilders have delivered the smallest homes in Europe, and have built homes which have been consistently judged to be of a poor quality by the government’s own design watchdog. The government should be putting the interests of communities first.”

Steve Nancarrow, MD of New Home Advisor agrees with Riba, saying "This decision will allow new home developers to put profit before quality for many years to come.

"There is already a marked difference in quality between private and social housing" says Steve "I know that because I have seen it with my own eyes time and time again. The people living in government funded accommodation are some of the most vulnerable in our society. Why should they suffer? They deserve better standards not worse."

"This decision will unfortunately tar all developers with the same brush"
says Steve. "I know several that really care about quality and go above and beyond the existing standards. Home Buyers and Councils should be aware of this and choose their house builder very carefully. If they want free advice they can contact me at any time and I would be happy to help."

Steve is not surprised that the NHBC have supported the decision. "After all the NHBC is an insurance company not a consumer organisation. Why should they care?"


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