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Mapping existing housing standards
A report prepared by Richards Partington Architects for CABE in May 2010.
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Contents : Introduction Code for Sustainable Homes Lifetime Homes Secure by Design Building for Life Building Regulations Approved Documents Summary Diagram 1 2 5 7 8 11 12
Introduction This short mapping exercise intends to set out simply the wider context of existing standards that new homes in England must conform to. It reviews: the Code for Sustainable Homes, Lifetime Homes, Secure by Design, Building for Life and the Building Regulations Approved Documents. This report was commissioned by CABE and carried out by Richard Partington Architects. It is a useful background document outlining the origins and coverage of existing standards. It is not comprehensive in its considerations, but useful to inform CABE and others thinking on the interrelationship of different standards currently in use.
Code for Sustainable Homes The Purpose of the Standard The aim of the Code is to improve the overall sustainability of new homes by setting a single national sustainability standard for England, Wales and Northern Ireland within which the home building industry can design and construct homes to higher environmental standards, and give new homebuyers better information about the environmental impact of their new home and its potential running costs. The Code uses a sustainability rating system – indicated by ‘stars’ to communicate the overall sustainability performance of a home and it considers issues such as the embodied energy of materials that exceed the scope of the Building Regulations. A home can achieve a sustainability rating from one ( ) to six ( ) stars depending on the extent to which it has achieved Code standards. One star is the entry level and six stars is the highest level – reflecting exemplar development in sustainability terms. The structure of the Code and the weighting of environmental impacts assessed within it is derived from the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) Ecohomes scheme. Policy Weighting The Code is a voluntary standard with flexibility for developers to determine the most costeffective mix of issues to cover to achieve any particular level, subject to a limited number of mandatory requirements. However, it is also used as a condition of funding for the Homes and Communities Agency’s National Affordable Housing Programme, on other government projects and land, and by local authorities when they want to set sustainability-based planning conditions on housing developments in their area. The Code assessment scheme is administered by registered assessors licensed by the Building Research Establishment. The Code is not a statutory standard but the Energy and C02 Emissions category use a method for calculating energy performance that is mirrored in the Building Regulations. A Code assessed house must comply with the Building Regulations as well so there is duplication in certain respects. The calculation methodology for establishing emissions performance, the Standard Assessment Procedure, known as SAP, is common to both the Code and Building Regulations Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) but in operation and compliance the Building Regulations are entirely independent of the Code. The assessment procedures are the same for energy and emissions performance in order that a mixed development of publicly funded housing and private housing is assessed with the same SAP methodology. Some confusion has arisen over this relationship and this is compounded by the tendency to consult on changes to the Code and the Building Regulations simultaneously. Essentially the Code is a means for demonstrating sustainable design that exceeds Statutory Standards in both scope and target performance. Spatial Scale of Implementation The Code measures the sustainability of a home against nine design categories, rating the ‘whole home’ as a complete package. Within each design category there are a series of issues that are scored individually to attain credits. A minimum level of performance is necessary in mandatory categories (Energy and Water, for instance). Other categories or issues are non mandatory and are described as ‘tradable’. The abbreviations for each issue are shown in brackets:
Energy and CO2 Emissions (Ene 1-8) Water (Wat 1-2) Materials (Mat 1-2) Surface Water Run-off (Sur 1) Waste (Was 1-3) Pollution (Pol 1-2) Heath and Wellbeing (Hea 1- 4) Management (Man 1-4) Ecology (1-4)
In general the requirements of the Code relate to the detailed design of developments and do not address larger scale issues such as site selection, urban design, layout, amenities provision and infrastructure. History of the Standard The Code was introduced in 2006/7 and replaced the BRE’s EcoHomes standard. EcoHomes was introduced in 2000 and used a rating system of Pass, Good, Very Good or Excellent to grade the sustainability of new homes. A significant criticism of EcoHomes concerned the trading-off between areas of the standards, so that, for example, homes with poor energy efficiency standards could still receive a high designation. Like the Code, EcoHomes was a voluntary standard that became mandatory for projects funded by the (then) Housing Corporation and English Partnerships, or where required by local planning policies. EcoHomes itself had its origins in the earlier BREEAM Version 3/91 (New Homes) of 1991 and its 1995 revision the Environmental Standard: Homes for a Greener World. This was the third standard created by the BRE under its BREEAM methodology and delivered a simple Pass or Fail result with a minimum level of performance under each area of the standard. Impact on Housing Design Energy and emissions – The Code energy and emissions criteria’s current influence over housing design and space standards is an indirect one. However, the proposed changes in energy policy, particularly the introduction of the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES), will be reflected in revisions to the Code. The Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard is the first plank of the Government’s definition of zero carbon within what is known as the ‘energy hierarchy’. It recognises that in new building we should first focus on saving energy or ‘demand reduction’, by improving insulation and thermal performance, before adopting low and zero carbon technologies. As a result, the Code will exert a stronger influence over dwelling form and position. Detached houses will require better performing fabric, while larger homes, regardless of type, will need to work harder to comply with the new standard. The increased cost to a developer of doing so will further increase pressure to constrain overall dwelling sizes. Of course the whole life cost will be reduced as a result of more efficient homes, to the benefit of the occupier. Waste – The Code sets detailed requirements for internal and external storage space for recyclable materials that go beyond HCA standards. Health and Wellbeing – The Code embeds the Lifetime Homes standards as an optional or ‘tradable’ criteria. It also sets out optional criteria for providing private external space (garden, balcony etc). The requirements for daylighting, whilst optional and not exceeding those set out in British Standards, discourage the use of deep-plan single aspect dwelling layouts and may also indirectly encourage brighter and more spacious designs. 3
Location and Transport – The Code includes an option for the provision of a home office space, which must be accommodated in addition to other furniture requirements. It also has an option to provide secure and covered cycle storage. Whilst this can be provided in an external shed, it may also be included within the dwelling in which case it must be in addition to other space storage requirements. Likely Changes A revised version of the Code was published for public consultations which ended on 24th March 2010. The intention is to introduce the revised version later in 2010 to coincide with the updates to Building Regulations Parts L and F. Further major revisions to the Code are anticipated in 2013 and 2016, in line with the implementation of the Zero Carbon Homes policy and future changes to the Building Regulations. The principal changes proposed in the current revision will bring the Code into line with the proposed Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard and the new definition of zero carbon. The scoring will place greater emphasis on energy efficiency with reduced, but still significant, emphasis on emissions. The requirements will incorporate changes to the accessibility requirements to reflect the proposed changes to Lifetime Homes and it will also include greater flexibility for the waste and recycling storage provision.
Lifetime Homes The Purpose of the Standard Lifetime Homes was created in the early 1990s as a result of research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation into the long term suitability of our homes. The aim was to promote accessibility and inclusivity in dwelling design to ensure that dwellings would adapt over time to suit the changing circumstances of the occupants through old age, reduced mobility or temporary disability. A lifetime Home is “a home that will not evict its occupants through changing circumstances”. Policy Weighting Sixteen design criteria have structured the standard since its inception. Although some of the recommendations have now become embedded in statutory documents such as Building Regulations Approved Document Part M the Lifetime Homes standard has always been achieved through self-evaluation. There is no accredited assessment system though the standard is now in the custodianship of Habinteg Housing Association who maintain the website and offer guidance on interpretation. Revisions to the standard are currently being considered under the consultation on the Code for Sustainable Homes, which ended in March 2010. The GLA made Lifetime Homes a requirement for all development, private and public, in the 2004 London Plan. In July 2009 the government published a PPS on Eco-towns and the Lifetime Homes Standard is a material consideration for any development within an Eco-town. History of the Standard The Lifetime Homes concept was developed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Habinteg Housing Association and The Helen Hamlyn Foundation in the early 1990s. The resultant 16 design criteria aim to produce homes that are accessible to a wide range of occupants and able to be easily adapted to meet changing needs of a household. Those provisions, which attempt to anticipate future changes and introduce adaptability, are different in spirit from Building Regulations, which prescribe the minimum accessibility standards for a dwelling at the time of construction. Impact on Housing Design The design criteria that impact on space standards are discussed below. requirements are stated or paraphrased with a note on the potential impact. The general
Criterion 6 Doorways and Hallways – The width of internal doorways is related to corridor widths and approaches, which range between 900mm and 1200mm. This provision exceeds the requirements of Approved Document Part M. Criterion 7 Wheelchair Accessibility – There should be space for turning a wheelchair in dining areas and living areas and adequate circulation space elsewhere. A 1500mm turning circle or 1700x 1400 mm turning ellipse will satisfy the requirement. Criterion 8 Living Room – For ‘visitability’ the living room should be located at entrance level, affecting the space planning within the dwelling but not necessarily its internal dimensions.
Criterion 9 Entrance Level Bedspace – In houses of two or more storeys there should be space on the entrance level that can be used as a convenient bedspace. No specification or dimensions are given. In practice moveable items of furniture can be removed as this is a provision for a temporary illness or disability and the main design consideration is the potential position of the bed in relation to immoveable items such as windows, doors and electrical services. Criterion 10 Entrance Level WC and Shower Drain – Dwellings with three or more bedrooms, or on one level, must have a fully accessible WC and drainage provision to allow a shower to be fitted. The Lifetime Homes requirement is more onerous than Approved Document Part M. Criterion 12 Stair Lift and Through Lift – A suitable space for a through-the-floor lift connecting the ground to an upper bedroom must be provided. The staircase in the home must be capable of accommodating a seated chair lift. To comply with the space standard the staircase must be 900mm wide and the landings must be unobstructed. Criterion 14 Bathroom Layout – The bathroom should be designed to incorporate ease of access to the bath, WC and basin. In practice there is not a requirement for a turning circle however adequate circulation space must be maintained in front and to the side of fittings. Likely Changes The public consultation on the Code for Sustainable Homes ended in March 2010 and included a consultation on proposed amendments to the Lifetime Homes. These, relatively minor, changes have been recommended by a technical working group and aim to clarify access arrangements and dimensional requirements. The requirement for level thresholds is relaxed in certain areas (for instance balconies) where dimensional co-ordination with large thicknesses of insulation may be a problem in the future with the introduction of the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES).
Secured by Design The Purpose of the Standard Secured by Design is a crime prevention initiative that encourages good practice in the design and layout of buildings to reduce the opportunity for crime and increase the perception of safety in new development. The standard acknowledges that good design must be the aim of all those involved in the development process and should be encouraged everywhere. The background document to the 2004 edition refers to government planning policy which identifies community safety as an integral part of the design agenda, referring to Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 (PPG3), which called upon local planning authorities to: “promote design and layouts which are safe and take account of public health, crime prevention and community safety considerations.” Secured by Design was updated in 2009 to align with and compliment the Code for Sustainable Homes. The standard is owned by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Policy Weighting The HCA refers to Secured by Design in the Design and quality standards, April 2007, used in the assessment of Housing Grant for the 2008-2011 National Affordable Housing Programme. Schemes must reflect the advice obtained from local police architectural liaison officers/crime prevention design advisors (CPDA) and ‘wherever possible’ obtain secured by design accreditation. Award applications area assessed by the crime prevention design advisor. Impact on Housing Design The 2009 standard is divided into two parts, the first, Design Solutions, considers the layout of streets and relationship of estate planning to crime. The second part, Preferred Specifications, contains detailed requirements for the security aspects of windows doors, locks and the like and is not concerned with housing design. Design Solutions emphasizes the definition of ownership and advocates the layout of roads and footpaths on a cul-de-sac, non-permeable, basis (Part 1 Section 3.0 “Through Roads and Cul-de-sacs”). Detailed issues such as seating planting and lighting are also considered but these are not relevant to dwelling space standards. Two sections consider the orientation and layout of buildings. Section 11 advises on the position of dwelling frontages and advocates a mix of dwellings to improve potential for homes to be occupied throughout the day. Section 16 gives advice on the position of parking. Communal parking is generally discouraged but where necessary small groups must be within view from routinely occupied rooms of owners’ premises. This has a bearing on the disposition of parking across the site and to a small degree the layout of dwellings relating living spaces to a view of parking and providing natural surveillance in the public realm.
Building for Life The purpose of the Standard Building for Life promotes design excellence and celebrates (through awards) best practice in the house building industry. Building for Life assessments score the design quality of planned or completed housing developments against the 20 Building for Life criteria. Anyone can do an informal assessment but formal assessments, now required by several agencies, can only be carried out by an accredited Building for Life assessor. Assessments are completed against all of the 20 Building for Life criteria. Each criterion can be scored 1, 0.5 or 0. - Score of 1 - Awarded where there is sufficient evidence that the design meets the criterion - Score of 0.5 - Awarded where a specific part of the design meets this criterion, but another does not. - Score of 0 - Awarded where there is not enough evidence that the criterion will be met, or where the evidence makes it clear the criterion will not be met Building for Life scores fall in to the following grades: - 16 or more Very good (Gold Standard) - 14 - 15.5 Good (Silver Standard) - 10 - 13.5 Average - 9.5 or fewer Poor Policy Weighting The HCA uses Building for Life in the following situations: Applicants for National Affordable Housing Programme grants should demonstrate that their proposal meets at least 12 criteria Design teams proposing residential development on HCA land Property and Regeneration (P+R) programme should demonstrate that their proposal meets at least 14 criteria.
NAHP funding: The HCA does not require an accredited BfL assessment with the submission of the NAHP bid, however it is recommended that bidders should submit a design statement which demonstrates how each of the Building for Life criteria will be addressed. Following the submission of the NAHP bid, the HCA may ask for an accredited assessment of the development proposal. If the HCA agrees to provide grant support for the scheme proposed, the development will be subject to the standard impact audit regime. As such it may be subject to an on-site Building for Life assessment. P+R Programme: The HCA does not require an accredited BfL assessment with the submission of the NAHP bid, however it is recommended that bidders should submit a design statement which demonstrates how each of the Building for Life criteria will be addressed. It is a requirement that any development through the P+R programme should be entered into the Building for Life awards when it is at least fifty per cent complete. Use in CLG Annual Monitoring Reports: All regional and local planning bodies must submit an annual monitoring report to CLG with reference to core output indicators: a set of standard measures used by planning authorities to complete these reports. In July 2008 CLG published a set of revised core output indicators that introduced Building for Life as the indicator of housing quality (Indicator H6). 8
Annual monitoring returns indicate the number and proportion of total new build completions of housing sites reaching very good, good, average and poor ratings against the Building for Life criteria. Monitoring returns will include any housing site which involves at least ten completed dwellings (available for use), including phases of large developments where they are to be counted in that year as net additional completions.
Spatial Scale of Implementation The Building for Life standard benchmarks developments across a range of indicators relating to suitability of tenure and type; the quality of the public realm; and the design and performance of the dwellings. History of the Standard Building for Life was formally launched in September 2001 with a commitment to the following aims: - Celebrating best practice in home and neighbourhood design; - Understanding the needs and aspirations of home buyers; and - Identifying the barriers to good design – and campaigning to remove them From the process of selecting case studies for the website, a set of questions was produced to judge the quality of new housing development. These questions were published by a partnership of CABE, the Home Builders Federation HBF and Design for Homes as the Building for Life criteria in July 2003. In 2005, CABE published a flip-chart guide, listing and explaining the Building for Life criteria and their application in more detail. Drafted in close consultation with the Home Builders Federation, the guide was published in November 2005 under the title “Delivering great Places to Live: 20 questions you need to answer”. The criteria guide is one of the publications most frequently downloaded from the CABE and Building for Life websites, and has been updated regularly to keep in step with the policy context. An further guidance document entitled “Evaluating Housing Proposals step by step” was published via the Building for Life website in 2007. Impact on Housing Design An accredited Building for Life assessment will be based on the professional expertise and judgment of the assessor, and will evaluate the scheme in terms of current best practice, relevant local and national policy frameworks, and other current standards in use in housing, such as the Code for Sustainable Homes (Criterion 5), Secure by Design (Criterion 15) and the Lifetime Homes standard (Criterion 18). Space standards: Aspects of fitness for purpose, e.g. good space standards and adequate daylighting and ventilation are addressed through Criterion 17: Architectural Quality. Accredited assessors will scrutinize floor plans for fitness for purpose, and check schemes for any over-reliance on single-aspect orientation. Accommodation and Tenure Mix: Suitability of accommodation and tenure is assessed under Criteria 2 and 3. Accredited assessors will scrutinise the available evidence to gain an understanding of the proposed development’s appropriateness of response to the local housing policy context. 9
In order to achieve a full score against these criteria, evidence would ideally make reference to the local housing needs assessment. Reference could also be made to the processes of community consultation or demographic profiling which may have informed the formulation of the mix. Sustainability: Accredited assessors will scrutinise the available evidence to gain an understanding of the proposed development’s performance against the Code for Sustainable Homes. Schemes meeting the current level of expectation (e.g. CSH level 3) would generally gain a score of 1 point against Criterion 5, whereas schemes exceeding the current level of expectation (e.g. CSH level 4-6) would gain a point against criterion 5 and an additional score of 1 point against criterion 20. Highways and Street Design: Accredited assessors will scrutinise the available evidence to gain an understanding of the proposed development’s appropriateness of response to guidance set out in the Manual for Streets. Safety: Accredited assessors will scrutinise the available evidence to gain an understanding of the proposed development’s regard for adequate safety and overlook in the public realm. Evidence may include the comments of the Architectural Liaison Officer assessing the scheme against the Secure by Design standard. Adaptability: The adaptability of homes is addressed under Criterion 18. In the first instance, accredited assessors will scrutinise the available evidence to gain an understanding of the scheme’s performance against the Lifetime Homes standard. Where the Lifetime Homes standard is not met in full, other aspects of the design of the dwellings will be taken into account in order to evaluate the flexibility of the accommodation on offer. Likely Changes CABE is entering the final year of a three-year programme to establish a national network of accredited assessors for Building for Life, with a commitment to training at least one assessor in each local planning authority in England by 2011. To date, around 180 accredited assessors are in place in planning authorities. The accredited assessors work to a code of conduct and are subject to a CABE programme of quality assurance and support. In the process of gaining accreditation, assessors working in local planning authorities are asked to map the 20 Building for Life criteria against the relevant national policy documents (such as PPS and PPS3 etc.), as well as against relevant local policies and guidance (e.g. the LDF and related SPG). The evaluation of any scheme against the 20 Building for Life criteria will be undertaken in the context of the relevant policy frameworks in place at the time of assessment.
Building Regulations Approved Documents It is widely supposed that the Building Regulations do not directly impact housing design or internal space standards. There are no minimum room or dwelling sizes, however, the regulations influence decisions over dwelling layouts and internal space allocations. The headings below briefly summarise the main areas of relevance: Part B – Fire The ‘means of escape’ provisions set maximum escape distances that limit the overall size of dwellings, especially flats, where there is only one point of exit. The requirements for enclosing staircases and corridors in fire-resisting construction mean that options for innovations in layout are limited. There is a possibility that in future revisions of the Building Regulations sprinkler systems may be made compulsory. If that happens, there may be greater freedom to develop new internal layouts and the amount of space dedicated to circulation may reduce. Part L – Conservation of Fuel and Power As already noted under the CfSH section, there is an indirect relationship between the requirements to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the overall form and size of dwellings. This relationship will become more important as further changes to Part L are introduced this year, in 2013 and in 2016 (including the proposed introduction of the Energy Efficiency Standard). Part M – Access The provisions for ambulant disabled access to dwellings contained in Part M of the building regulations largely reflect much of the good practice guidance contained within Lifetime Homes. This includes minimum sizes for circulation and provision of accessible WCs on the ground floor of the dwelling.
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