Three councils plan housebuilding changes
All new houses in Plymouth and South West Devon will need to be built with the environment in mind, if proposals outlined jointly by three councils get the go ahead.
South Hams, West Devon and Plymouth City Councils are introducing a new planning policy and guidance document in response to the climate and biodiversity emergencies which have been declared by all three authorities.
The plan is to make it legally binding for builders to construct homes with the environment in mind.
Organisers are now urging residents to take part in a consultation to give their views on on whether the plan goes far enough and if it is practical.
All three councils have declared climate emergencies and biodiversity emergencies, as has Devon County Council.
Their commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030 means action need to be taken quickly and decisively.
Cllr Lynn Daniel is a Green Party member of West Devon council and on the steering group of the joint local plan and welcomes the opportunity for people to give their views.
“I think it’s going to be very useful because what we want to do is to give builders and developers some guidance about building towards making sure houses are much more environmentally friendly and better for the residents in point of view of less energy costs; so houses that are more sustainable,” she explains.
She adds that some builders are more responsible than others but it is now time to enforce some standards more rigidly.
“There obviously have been developments in our area that are really to a high environmental standard.
“But I think the industry has been quite slow to change and to face up to the fact that we are heading to a low carbon future and we need to all be doing our bit.
“What we’d like to see is community energy hubs where people share their own energy and particularly houses built with the facility for battery storage so people can store the energy they generate when it’s hot to use when it isn’t.”
Many housebuilders say they are also committed to address the climate crisis. For example, Persimmon’s annual report 2020 identifies climate change action and resilience as the single most important material issues to be addressed.
The company has set targets which include the “aim to be net zero carbon for our homes in use by 2030 and in our operations by 2040 and 50 per cent of our homes will be built using timber frames from our off-site manufacturing facilities by 2025.”
Another major building firm, Taylor Wimpey, recognises climate change as “the most significant global environmental threat and we are determined to play our part in tackling it.”
This has translated into setting targets and recognising the need to purchase land that factors in the new costs associated with the Future Homes Standard and EV charging regulations.
Cllr Daniel would like to see even more ambitious projects though.
“As a Green, I would really love to see things like straw bale houses – so that they don’t cost the earth and they’re still affordable for people.”
The climate emergency planning policy and guidance consultation runs until Thursday 21 April 2022.
People can give their views online at https://plymouth-consult.objective.co.uk/kse/event/36806