Housing Standards - FAQs

Housing Standards – Technical Consultation

The Proposed Changes for 2015

Questions raised during our recent webinar – many questions have been amalgamated or consolidated. Those listed below are intended to cover the issues commonly raised.

1. In describing the higher standards is the use of the word "optional" misleading?

The ‘Optional’ standards are referred to as such as they are choices which can be identified in Planning Policy and applied to some developments. Once imposed as a Planning Conditions there is no choice or option to comply with the standard and it becomes enforceable in the same way as any other Building Regulation requirement.

2. Will guidance be given to Planning Authorities setting parameters when the 'option standards' are appropriate?

Planning Authorities will receive guidance in relation to the selection of an optional higher standard and they will have guidelines to follow to demonstrate that there is a need for the standard to be applied and that it is viable in relation to the development. Even if an optional standard is identified in a policy it is still anticipated that the application of this to a particular project will be the subject of discussions with the design team at an early stage.

3. Will these standards apply across the UK?

The proposals will initially apply in England as Wales have devolved responsibility for Building Regulations and Scotland has its own standards and framework. It is probable that these proposals may be reflected in subsequent changes to standards in Wales.

4. When a fully accessible house is specified, what provisions will be made for means of escape? Will Part B be changed?

At present there are no proposals to amend the guidance in relation to means of escape in case of fire.

5. Will the standards apply to a change of use to form a dwelling and will there be specific requirements for a change of use application if the category changes e.g. domestic use only to domestic and holiday home?

Where a change of use occurs under planning then the optional standard could only be imposed where the Building Regulations are not limited in their extent. A change of use to form a holiday home would not be considered as a change of use under Building Regulations. There does not appear to be any intention to amend the scope of the application of Regulations to a Change of Use from those currently in place.

The full webinar can be viewed online.