Posted by: Adam Roake | November 25, 2010

MORE CENTRALISED LOCALISM

This newsroom post from CLG caught my eye today. It seems you can now ignore my previous posts on the HCA draft new Core Standards, which have now gone on the bonfire along with CABE and any semblance of improved housing quality. It seems that the Building Regulations set out adequate standards for new housing whether privately or publicly funded, which is good news for developers, who have always said punters don’t have to buy their rabbit hutches if they don’t want to, but bad news for anyone interested in seeing decent homes and neighbourhoods built in the mass housing market.

In addition, where does it leave Boris’s new proposed new housing standards for London homes (see this previous post)? Shapps went on to say that he is “…calling time on the cocktail of local building standards that developers have to meet, some of which are directly contradictory“. Surely he can’t mean that the work Boris has been doing is down the plug hole as well? And to add insult to injury, it seems that, House builders are the experts at building homes, so I’m inviting them to be in charge of developing a new framework for local building standards – one which enables communities to get the high quality homes they demand, but without causing unnecessary costs and delays for developers“. So instead of local authorities, including Boris and the GLA, setting standards on behalf of their constituents and requiring house builders to meet them, house builders will set their own standards, which of course will meet local demand unless of course to do so would involve unnecessary cost or delay.

Finally, in a bizarre piece of Whitehall double-speak, this Local Standards Framework, developed and maintained by the industry, will then become part of the National Planning Policy Framework. We will then have centrally approved housing standards, known as Local Standards (they’re called Local, so they must be local) but drafted by house builders and which we can be sure will meet the needs of each of our diverse local communities because…

If anyone has a sensible or even a not so sensible suggestion, please tell me how this sentence should end.

I for one am finding this schizophrenic government very difficult to understand. Fair enough; stop work on the HCA’s laudable but expensive new Core Standards, particularly since there is no appetite to roll them out across all housing. But how does it fit within the Localism agenda to put house builders in charge of a centralised Standards Framework? You can call it ‘Local’ if you want Mr Shapps, but if it’s part of the National Framework and house builders are in charge of its development, then surely it is a centrally imposed diktat. How does this proposal sit with the idea that local communities will be able to decide what kind of development they want in their neighbourhood? Perhaps we shall find out when they stop wrangling over the detail and publish the Localism Bill.  Apparently, according to Irene Lucas, who ought to know, that will not be until next month (thanks to Kevin Goodwin for spotting that one).


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Responses

  1. […] we have seen with the Local Standards element of the National Framework (I still don’t understand how that works), Mr Shapps believes that […]

  2. […] seems, much as I predicted here and here, that the Coalition are right behind Localism so long as the locals are pro-growth. The […]


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