Plan to act with the new Planning Act

September 12, 2016

Housing and Planning Act 2016 for Local Authorities

It seems that not all authorities are aware of, or prepared for, some of their new responsibilities under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. The blink and you’ll miss it clause relating to energy efficiency and sustainability has been missed by many and understood by a few. Here is an extract of the actual wording taken from section 210 under Part 8 “Public Authority Land”.

(1) Each authority listed in Schedule 20 must prepare, in respect of each year (beginning with 2017), a report containing a buildings efficiency and sustainability assessment.

(2) A “buildings efficiency and sustainability assessment” is an assessment of the progress made by the authority, in the year to which the report relates, towards improving the efficiency and contribution to sustainability of buildings that are part of the authority’s estate.

(3) A report must, in particular, include an assessment of the progress made by the authority, in the year to which the report relates, towards—

(a) reducing the size of the authority’s estate, and

(b) ensuring that buildings that become part of the authority’s estate fall within the top quartile of energy performance.

If an authority has acquired buildings that are not in the top quartile then they are to explain “why the building has nevertheless become part of the authority’s estate”. The aim appears to be to release more land, presumably for housing, and for any retained buildings, at least ensure that it has high levels of sustainability.

Clearly creating a report of this nature from scratch may appear a burden, especially at times of scarce resources.

Local authorities need to understand how this will impact on them and what they need to do to report. Reporting on performance – particularly regulatory reporting – can be onerous and time consuming, especially if this is the first time an organisation is doing it. Luckily there is an existing environmental reporting and benchmarking service that has been tried and tested in the sector.

SHIFT has been used in the housing association sector for nearly ten years.  As well as providing efficient reporting mechanism and benchmarking, it has saved significant costs for building owners.  The specialised nature of the benchmarking ensures quantifiable, year on year environmental improvements. At this point in time, it is unclear whether retained housing stock comes within the act, but if it does, then SHIFT is ideally suited to the task.

Sustainable Homes has a track record of reporting and helping organisation become more sustainable, improve their environmental performance and add value to what they do – something that is key in hard times. Get in touch with any of our team to discuss how we can help you meet your regulatory requirements.

Richard Lupo

Richard Lupo

Areas of expertise: developing and instigating stream-lined processes to ensure environmental effectiveness