Small developments will be exempt from a zero-carbon standard for new homes

Third of new homes exempt from 'zero-carbon' standard

More than a third of new homes could be exempt from the Government’s ‘zero-carbon’ homes standard, following plans outlined in last week's Queen’s Speech.

In last year’s Budget, the Government declared that every new home in the UK would have to be constructed to a zero-carbon standard by 2016, but in the recent Queen’s Speech it was announced that homes built on ‘small sites’, which it is thought could apply to schemes of up to 50 homes, will now be exempt.

While the Government is yet to give its definition of ‘small sites’, 12.4 per cent of all residential planning applications submitted last year were for sites of fewer than 10 homes, or ‘minor developments’, according to figures released today by construction data experts, Barbour ABI.

Sites of 50 or under, which the Home Builders Federation believes could be the upper limit for the exemption to kick in, accounted for 36.4 per cent of all residential planning applications.

As well as small building sites being exempt, larger developers will also be allowed to meet the standard by paying for off-site alternatives rather than ensuring homes are highly energy efficient and incorporate green measures such as solar panels.

Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: “There are still many questions to be answered about the zero carbon exemption, such as how a small site is actually defined and how many new homes will fall under this category.

“With ‘allowable solutions’ legislation finally set to be passed, contractors will find it easier to mitigate carbon emissions off-site. But the news of a zero-carbon exemption will no doubt upset many environmental groups who could see it as a counter-productive move on the Government’s part.” 

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