Following news in the Autumn Statement of the Government’s plans to consult on new permitted development rights to tackle the housing crisis, AXA UK has published its ‘Developing Better Homes Report’ that explores how this can be achieved safely and sustainably.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a £32m investment in housing and planning with a commitment to build more homes and investigate the potential to convert others without the requirement for planning approval in his Autumn Statement.
AXA UK has long been calling on the Government to build more sustainable, resilient homes and to ensure quantity does not come at the expense of quality.
As well as building homes in greater numbers, AXA UK wants the Government to set out a national retrofitting strategy with financial incentives. This would help existing homeowners invest in green energy sources and protect their properties from the impact of climate change through measures such as insulation, switching gas boilers to air source heat pumps, and installing flood protection.
AXA Commercial CEO Jon Walker said: “Building and retrofitting resilient homes should be high on the Government’s agenda, particularly against the backdrop of rising energy costs and the increased incidence of severe weather events.
“We are acutely aware of the risks associated with poorly designed buildings and we see first-hand the impact these can have on families and businesses. The floods that hit much of the UK as a result of Storm Babet are the most recent example of this.
“As a large insurer, we firmly believe placing quality and safety at the heart of the housing agenda can improve our resilience to emerging risks driven by climate change such as flooding and extreme temperatures. This will also help people take back control of their energy bills.”
The ‘Developing Better Homes Report’ follows a roundtable discussion involving industry experts, held in September at AXA UK’s head office. The group of experts, which included designers, planning and placemaking experts, engineering consultants, investors and insurers, reflected on the Government’s proposals to expand the permitted development rights system and convert existing buildings into homes, as well as the implications this could have on building safety.
The report’s key recommendations to the Government are:
- Set out a national retrofitting strategy and provide financial incentives for households and small businesses looking to make their properties more climate-friendly (for example, through insulation, switching gas boilers to air source heat pumps or installing flood resilience measures).
- Develop a comprehensive skills strategy to ensure there is the expert capacity necessary within the development industry to deliver on the UK’s national housebuilding targets. The strategy should clearly explain how the various skill needs of the planning system will be met, as recommended by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee in 2021.
- Establish local housing boards to bring together councils, local MPs, developers and community leaders to discuss new projects and ensure these are appropriate and reflective of the area’s needs. These local boards should be overseen and supported by a national housing delivery unit.
- Legislate against the construction of inappropriate developments in flood risk areas and ensure climate and flood risk considerations are fully embedded into planning decisions.
You can read the full report here.
Recently, AXA UK announcedit would be providing body cameras to contractors to record essential safety work to buildings with dangerous cladding. More on that story here.