Housing Secretary Michael Gove has pledged to publish “shortly” revised timetables for the implementation of further energy efficiency targets for the private rental sector.
Gove was asked an explicit question about the issue in a Q&A session in London after a key speech on housebuilding. Gove repeated claims that he made in a newspaper article at the weekend, saying he thought the current timetable for EPC targets for landlords should be relation. “Further details would be published shortly” he said.
The Housing Secretary said in the article that his government was “asking too much too quickly” of landlords, after proposing a deadline of 2028 for new EPC regulations.Landlords will have to ensure their rented properties achieve a minimum EPC rating of C within five years or risked large fines.
Also at the Q&A session Gove made a further unequivocal pledge not to introduce rent controls, saying wherever they had been tried in the past they backfired.
The core of Gove’s comments, and his speech, concerned a renewed emphasis on building new homes - but mainly in cities, not rural areas.
He said: “Most people agree that we need to build more homes – the question is how we go about it. Rather than concreting over the countryside, we have set out a plan today to build the right homes in the right places where there is community support – and we’re putting the resources behind it to help make this vision a reality.
“At the heart of this is making sure that we build beautiful and empower communities to have a say in the development in their area.”
He promised to unblock the bottlenecks in the planning system which he said were “choking and slowing down development, and stopping growth and investment”.
This would involve a £24m Planning Skills Delivery Fund to clear backlogs and get the right skills in place, and setting up a “super-squad” team of leading planners and other experts charged with working across the planning system to unblock major housing developments. The team will first be deployed in Cambridge “to turbocharge our plans in the city” he said.
Developers will also be asked to contribute more through fees, to help support a higher quality more efficient planning service.
New flexibilities to convert shops, takeaways and betting shops into homes will help to rejuvenate the high street. Meanwhile, red tape will be cut to enable barn conversions and the repurposing agricultural buildings and disused warehouses.
New freedoms to extend homes, convert lofts and renovate new buildings will help to convert existing properties into new accommodation, he said, and a review into the extension of Permitted Development Rights “will make it easier for homeowners to build upwards and outwards – with new extensions and loft conversions - whilst ensuring neighbours’ interests are protected.”
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