Posted by Peter Foskett, Partner
Build houses or save the planet – a difficult choice
The Government’s announcement that builders undertaking developments with fewer than 50 homes will be exempted from having to build zero carbon homes and the current belief that the zero carbon obligation will be reduced for all house builders may at first blush seem to be a breach of faith by the Government.
The Government has however been forced to wrestle with a long standing failure of successive Governments to build enough houses to home the nation. A problem made worse by the past few years when housing starts (especially in the private sector) were a fraction of the number needed. With the desire for houses now again being translated into demand due to the availability of mortgages, the Government must ensure that the supply of houses increases so as to try and get supply and demand into balance. Otherwise another housing bubble is simply a matter of when, not if.
Although the Government has chosen to address the problems of today’s citizens over those of tomorrow’s, it nevertheless needs to be recognised for the practical approach it is taking to the green agenda. New houses and the equipment within them are more efficient than the majority of the existing housing stock so that although the new houses may not be as carbon-friendly as once intended, they do represent a gradual improvement in the nation’s carbon emissions.
Also in time an increasing stock of greener homes will suppress the value of older houses in the same way as the efficiency of new cars are depressing the price of older ones. Owners will be faced with either making improvements to protect the value of their homes (hopefully with Government assistance) or else this will give buyers the chance to purchase homes which they might not otherwise be able to afford.
Peter Foskett is head of our team specialising in developer work and leads the Commercial Property team in Swindon which is praised in Chambers & Partners UK for its “detailed knowledge base and flexible service.” Contact Peter on 0800 923 2065 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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