The Welsh Government announced the publication of its new standard, the “Welsh Development Quality Requirements 2021 – Creating Beautiful Homes and Places” on 17 August 2021. Here, Kate Evans – from Capital Law’s Construction, Energy and Project team – sums up what this means for the social housing sector.
The standard will be applied in full to all publicly funded affordable housing schemes submitted to Welsh Government at “concept” stage, for technical scrutiny from 1 October 2021. It covers space standards, the ability for new housing to be “gigabit ready”, and reducing carbon use during build and when inhabited.
Under the new standard, new homes must meet the following:
And consideration needs to be given to:
It is important to note that new affordable homes delivered through planning agreements (under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) and planning conditions will only be required to meet the Appendix A and Appendix B “space requirements” for agreements entered into after 1 October 2021, although Welsh Government has stated that they will keep this under regular review. The standard is not currently applicable to private developers; but it is Welsh Government’s ambition that private developers adopt it by 2025.
This standard, although slightly limited in its full applicability at this stage, is a bold statement for Welsh Government to make in terms of setting the benchmark for the largescale decarbonisation of social housing stock in Wales. It is a statement of intent of the Government in attempting to tackle the climate emergency, and reducing the carbon footprint of housing, which currently accounts for 10% of all carbon emissions in Wales.
It will be interesting to see whether in due course whether the standard will become applicable to all types of developer; and whether criteria currently listed as “consideration” only will be moved into the compulsory category, as the Welsh market for modern methods of construction and timber production continues to mature.
Capital Law’s dedicated Construction Energy and Projects team, along with our housing association team are experienced in providing advice covering the areas touched upon in this article. If you have any queries or would like to discuss how this standard impacts upon your association’s planned delivery of housing stock, then please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.