In the recently published Planning for the Future White Paper, Government sent out a radical proposal for planning in England to change. NaCSBA welcomed the potential changes, saying that the ideas should improve the outlook for custom and self build.

The reforms put forward are based around a distinct change in how we deliver planning in England, relying on a simplified idea of zoning for land, combined with design codes that will frame what can be built, where.

If they go ahead, the reforms would be the biggest shake up of planning nationally since the 1940s, when the present system was created.

NaCSBA welcomes the proposals, saying that change is needed, and will result in more custom build and self build homes being built.

Planning proposals for self build

Under the proposals put forward by Planning for the Future, custom build and self build will be supported by:

In addition, there would remain a commitment to the Right to Build, although NaCSBA maintains that this needs to be strengthened to make it more robust and give more people access to self build. This would build on the successes made so far.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA CEO, said: “For too long our planning system and our housing market has been stuck in a rut.

“Consumer choice is the key to more and better homes that more people aspire to live in and that communities are happier to see built. There is huge potential to be unlocked. With choice comes responsibility and the local design codes will help ensure that these cherished new homes are fitting additions to their surroundings.

The message to the public is clear, the choice that you expect with every other product is now coming to the housing market – prepare to be excited and inspired.”


Planning for the Future is in a consultation stage, and is inviting people to respond to its recommendations. 

Energy efficiency is top of the housing agenda right now, with a series of regulations and standards around the efficiency of newly built, and extended, housing, both in the UK and in Ireland. This will affect Part L and Part F of the Building Regulation, which all homes must meet, which is actually set of minimum standards for the expectations of all building work. However, for environmental efficiency, the benchmark minimum is about to get much higher in 2020.

In October the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced the UK Government’s ambition to drastically overhaul building with a new environmental Future Homes Standard for new build homes. Currently under consultation, if it goes ahead the new standard will ban fossil-fuel heating systems, such as the classic gas-boiler, to be replaced with renewable energy sources, such as air source heat pumps, by 2025.

Then Chancellor Philip Hammond first announced the scrapping of gas-boilers earlier this year, in favour of the increased use of heat pumps and shared heat networks, and the Future Homes Standard follows through on this commitment by Government. However, it was only in 2016 that a Labour-initiated policy to achieve Zero Carbon in new homes was dumped by David Cameron.

The consultation is calling for views on the challenge around banning fossil fuel heating systems, changes to Building Regulations with regards to reducing the carbon footprint of homes built after 2025, and also on the reality of a process that would  restrict local planning authorities from setting higher energy efficiency standards for new homes in the future.

New National Design Code

In addition the Government has launched a new National Design Guide with 10 points that set out new expectations for new development with 10 core points. This will feed through at a local level with local authorities expected to develop their own design guides to reflect their setting, character and history, while also fitting into this new national standard.


In the Republic of Ireland new regulations have come into force, with the European Union (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations coming into effect on the 1 November, affecting all new builds and any major renovations. Effectively these amend the Part L of the country’s Building Regulations to EU-level requirements that newly built homes be nearly zero energy buildings (NZEB).

The regulations will make new housing 70% more energy efficient when compared to 2005 performance requirements, through a combination of the use of more renewable energy source together with better air tightness and the increased use of ventilation systems.

While creating more environmentally sound buildings, there will be increased costs associated with compliance that should be factored in to planned work.

What are Building Regulations

New buildings are controlled by a set of standards that govern how they are built, which apply to all forms of building work including new-builds, renovations and extensions – both residential and commercial. The Building Regulations are a set of minimum standards of what is expected to create a safe, healthy and high-performing building – and many self-builders build to a higher spec than the Regs.

The regulations cover a range of topics including structure, accessibility, electrical and gas safety, and crucially energy peformance, and it is this latter element that is driving the current changes. The Energy Saving Trust states: new homes use a carbon standard that’s worked out using an official methodology to get a calculation that gives the carbon emissions for a home. The goal is to ensure that your home is built so that the expected emissions are below the target emissions rate (TER).

This TER is set for types of home, and has been gradually been tightened over the years to encourage better efficiency and the uptake of more renewable energy measures, such as solar panels or heat pumps. Read its blog on Building for Future Energy Efficiency, here.