20 October 2005 Sustainable Housing: a progress report 

20 October 2005 Sustainable Housing: a progress report 

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) today decided to return to the subject of sustainable housing in light of the Government Response to its predecessor Committee's report, "Housing: Building a Sustainable Future" and the publication of the Five Year Action Plan, Sustainable Communities: Homes for All, by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) in January 2005. The EAC Report, which came out the same month, was critical of the lack of a proper assessment of the environmental implications of the Sustainable Communities Plan and the proposals of the Barker review.  It also expressed alarm that in ODPM's anxiety to increase house-building rates, particularly in the South East, serious concerns regarding infrastructure provision, building standards and carbon emissions were being sidelined.

The Committee hopes to focus on establishing what progress, if any, has been made by the Government since the Report was published.  To this end the Committee is seeking views on the progress of the Code for Sustainable Buildings, including those elements within it which deal with design, the consultation process for the new standard for dwellings (LPS2020) and the Planning for Housing Provision consultation paper.  The Committee is particularly interested in looking at how the new Five Year Action Plan, Sustainable Communities: Homes for All, published by ODPM in January 2005 addresses the issues of environmental impact and the need to ensure that the provision of appropriate infrastructure keeps pace with the provision of new housing.

In terms of infrastructure the Committee will also examine in greater detail the potential impact of new housing developments on existing and future water resources and, in particular, the extent to which the Environment Agency and the various water companies are planning ahead to cope with the impact of increased demand from new households. 

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit memoranda setting out their views on these subjects.   Some specific issues on which the Committee would welcome comments are set out below, although respondents are free to comment on any issues which they consider relevant.

Written evidence should be sent to the Committee by 24 November 2005.  For printing purposes we require submissions via e-mail to eacom@parliament.uk in Word format.  We are unable to accept PDFs except for supporting documentation already in the public domain which will not be printed by us.  Although we no longer require a hard copy, it is your responsibility to check that we have received your submission if no email acknowledgement has been received by you. A brief guidance note on the preparation and submission of evidence is available on the Committee's web pages.  For further information on the this inquiry, please telephone 020-7219-1378.

Inquiry Issues

A:  The Code for Sustainable Buildings

1: Can a voluntary Code possibly deliver the degree of change needed in the building industry to achieve well-designed, energy efficient sustainable buildings which have minimal impact on the local environment?

2: Is the Government doing enough to promote the Code, with the industry and the general public, ahead of its imminent introduction early in 2006?

3: Should the Government be introducing fiscal measures to reward higher building quality and greater environmental performance?

B:  Sustainable Communities: Homes for All

4: Does the ODPM Five Year Plan, Sustainable Communities: Homes for All demonstrate a greater recognition of, and greater commitment to tackling, the impact of increased house building on the environment or does it merely pay lip service to it?

5: To what extent does the Five Year Plan address the environmental implications of the geographical distribution of demolition versus new build? 

C: LPS2020

6:The Government has consulted on the new construction standard for dwellings (LPS2020). On the basis of that consultation is it possible to determine whether the new standard will be a positive force for change and add value to the construction process? 

D:  Infrastructure

7:Is the Government doing enough to secure sufficient funds for the timely provision of infrastructure, such as transport links, schools and hospitals in the four Growth Areas?

8: Are the water companies doing enough to secure the supply of water resources to the four Growth Areas? And is concern about security of water supply, in the South East of England in particular, a valid one or simply a knee jerk reaction to a few hot, dry summers? 

9: Is there sufficient effort being made by the Government, the Environment Agency and the water companies to educate people about water efficiency?

Notes for Editors

1. Housing: Building a Sustainable Future, First Report of Session 2004-05, HC135-I, was published by the Environmental Audit Committee's predecessor Committee on 30 January 2005.  The Government Response to the Report was published by the Government as a Command Paper, CM6575, in May 2005.  

2. Details of all the Committee's press releases and inquiries, together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee's Internet home page, which can be found at the Committee's homepage.