Have you ever heard of the Merton Rule? As the title of this post says it’s a bit like understanding the Offside Rule, but with subtleties that are even more complex! Many of you will have seen articles earlier last week, specifically in the Guardian, quoting environmental campaigners angry that there seems to be slippage on the Government’s commitment to both localised and decentralised microgeneration.
Now I can understand why there is such a furore, but perhaps I am missing the point slightly. Having spent a long time inside the tent trying to negotiate a half way sensible Sustainability Code for Homes, which thankfully we now have on the books, surely rather than getting tremendously excited about Local Authority freedoms (or lack of) the answer lies in making sure developers are, in future, required to build to the six code standards outlined. This would restrict the number of permutations of various standards – a common cause for complaint by developers. And provided we see in the up-coming Planning Policy Statement on Climate Change a commitment to the Code, then the environmental lobby should be satisfied too.
The key here though is to wait not only for a strong Planning Policy Statement on Climate Change in the autumn, but also for Local Authorities to have a chance to develop their local planning policies, and for developers to begin to build to higher Code standards as a result. This will take two or three years. We don’t want to take our striker off until the sub has warmed up!
Requiring developers to build to one of six standards, whilst ensuring those in Local Authorities that wish to can take forward higher performance construction within the code, surely builds up an evidence base for increasing volumes in the future and making a significant contribution to moving towards Zero Carbon Housing by 2016. Or am I just a ref who’s misinterpreted the rules? If so, I’ll take the weekend off!