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HomeNews100,000 new homes in Herts should be ‘better built than minimum requirement’

100,000 new homes in Herts should be ‘better built than minimum requirement’

Hertfordshire’s 100,000 new homes should be well insulated and built “above the current minimums set by building regulations”, a planning authority has agreed.

North Herts Council has earmarked land for roughly 11,600 of these new homes across the period 2011 and 2031.

The authority has signed up to a new Hertfordshire Development Quality Charter put forward by the Hertfordshire Growth Board (HGB) – a panel made up of leaders from the 10 boroughs and districts in the county plus Hertfordshire County Council.

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North Herts Council members have also agreed to ask organisations what they think about a new set of sustainability planning guidelines which would cover the Letchworth, Baldock, Hitchin, Knebworth and Royston areas.

“The built environment accounts for about 25 per cent of emissions,” said Councillor Ruth Brown (LD, Royston Heath), who is responsible for planning at North Herts Council.

“It’s important that we seek to reduce these as much as possible.

“It’s better, easier, more convenient, cheaper to build well-insulated houses with good energy and renewable energies than it is to retrofit.

“We also need to be thinking about our changing climate in terms of future-proofing what we are building.”

Cllr Brown added: “It will provide more robust guidance for developers and hopefully drive up standards.

“It proposes three standards – the bronze, which is the minimum legal requirement, and the silver and gold which will encourage developers to achieve higher standards than the minimum requirement.”

The highest standards in the draft local rules include at least 50 per cent of construction waste diverted from landfills, at least 30 per cent biodiversity net gain, and using “hempcrete” blocks made out of a hemp-lime mix.

Cllr Brown said authority planners will judge plans which meet higher standards “more favourably”.

She said: “When I go and talk to developers, they are actually asking us to say what we want, to set it out clearly, and all they ask for is a level playing field.”

Housing insulation has made headlines over recent years.

According to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit non-profit, poorly insulated homes graded in energy band F will cost an average of £415 a year more than houses and flats in band C from January 2024.

The government launched a £1billion scheme to fund new home insulation for around 300,000 householders between 2023 and 2026.

Two years ago, Insulate Britain blocked motorways as part of their national call for whole-house retrofits in all British homes by 2030.

Protesters blocked routes in and around Hertfordshire – including the A1(M) junction 4 near Hatfield, the South Mimms interchange near Potters Bar, an M25 slip road near Chorleywood and Waltham Cross, and the M11 junction 8 near Bishop’s Stortford.

According to the HGB charter, building to one of the recommended standards called Passivhaus can reduce energy consumption per square metre per year by around 88 per cent.

Introducing the charter, HGB chair Councillor Richard Roberts (Con, Kings Langley) said some people “oppose new development because they are concerned about its quality, impact on its surroundings and lack of supporting facilities”.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The Hertfordshire Development Charter will drive standards, energy efficiency and sustainability and I am really pleased that councils and companies are now signing up to what will become the high bar by which all developments are judged.

“Hertfordshire is such a special place with many pressures, so all development – especially the bigger ones – should set the highest standards.

“Our partner councils across the county are a huge part of making sure we build the best we can.”

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