Key Points from the Thematic Hearing on the Built Environment

Key Outcomes

  • We don’t have time to wait for changes to the planning system – let’s go around it
  •  We need to create demand to stimulate a market to develop skills and jobs in zero-carbon new build and retrofit
  •  Make the South West the centre of expertise for low carbon buildings
  •  Local people need true engagement about what they want to see in their local communities

Key Actions Barriers / issues Overcoming barriers / Opportunities
Retrofit needs to happen faster and deeper,
including for the fuel poor
· Upheaval to building occupant
· Cost
· Organisational investment criteria – organisations
often look for a 8 year payback max. This is too short. This results in the low-hanging fruit being implemented, which makes it even harder to do the
· Quality of installations can be poor and have given some technologies a poor reputation.
· Little action in the rented sector. Perhaps because the tenant gets the financial benefit but the landlord funds the capital cost.
· Properties are turning over at their slowest rate for decades, so refurbishment opportunities at the
point of ownership transfer are not very high.
· Commercial buildings are very diverse in how they are constructed and so adopting common methodologies is difficult.
· Energy Performance Contracting
· Reprioritise health funding to support retrofit for the fuel poor
· Provide volume from housing associations, local authorities and community energy organisations to the market to establish supply chains and reduce costs.
· Energiesprong whole house retrofit – treat the whole house, once – it’s a model that is workable, now.
· More monitoring and enforcement of existing requirements on landlords by Trading Standards (rental properties are not permitted to be E, F or G).
· Scotland has introduced 0% loans for home owners to deliver energy efficiency and renewables improvements.
· There is a pilot operating in the Exe Valley to review how effective it would be to incentivise retrofit through council tax discounts – need to apply learning from this.
· Public sector refurbishments to show leadership and aim for net zero carbon.
· Purchasing green energy through Power Purchase Agreements that enable new generation capacity can be a low-cost part of
the decarbonisation puzzle. This comes with a warning that many commercially-available ‘green tariffs’ do not work.
Developments need to be planned
holistically so that people don’t have to
travel long distances for services and employment
· The planning system judges local authority
performance on how many homes a local authority provides, not on the quality or sustainability.
· Focus on the experience of people, not housing numbers. We need a document that sets out what the community want -doesn’t have to be a planning document – let’s not use the planning system as an excuse.
· Exeter – we’ve got a local industrial strategy, we’ve got a garden city strategy, we’ve got a transport strategy that is focussed on
walking and cycling – everything is aligned to get this transition moving.
Zero-carbon must be mandatory for new
· Up-front build costs in comparison to existing Part L of the Building Regulations. Developers argue that
building to higher standards will require other commitments, such as affordable housing, to fall.
· National Planning Policy Framework makes it difficult for local areas to set higher standards.
· Local Plans and Neighbourhood Planning process is
too long to address the climate emergency.
· Supply chain is not setup for modern, modular construction in Devon.
· The planning system is often about collecting objections rather than supportive voices.
· Electricity grid needs to be reinforced to achieve the extent of electrification necessary to build to net zero carbon.
· Publicise the Committee on Climate Change’s calculations that a passivhaus with an air source heat pump costs just £4,800 more than an equivalent Part L house.
· Collectively work on demonstrating that it is financially viable to build zero-carbon homes, now.
· Architecture and engineering professionals to encourage clients to target net-zero. Work with the institutes to do this.
· Help the mortgage lenders understand that a higher performing house is going to cost less to run over the long term – “Green Mortgages”.
· Government lobbying for changes to regulations (but this may not be quick enough).
· Use Local Development Orders to bring forward the right type of development in the right place.
· Take away the burden of the planning system in return for a developer’s commitment to net-zero.
· Public sector to demonstrate by example and lead others to build to zero-carbon. We don’t need planning policy for this.
· Commit to training and skills development in the southwest through the Local Enterprise Partnership – this is a jobs and growth opportunity. Pitch for the South West to own this agenda.
· Public sector to specify local supply chains to help grow skills and the jobs to support them (skills don’t necessarily need academies
– many can be learned on the job).
· Education to enable consumers to demand zero-carbon homes.
· Fiscal measures – council tax banding – to reward consumers to make the right choice.
· Give communities a proper voice in spatial planning decisions – Transition Homes in Totnes has shown this is effective and results in local support.
Embodied energy must be minimised· Include the carbon intensity of materials within decision making.