New London guidance on preparing planning energy assessments released

September 2013: In line with Policy 5.2 of the London Plan, all major new developments submitted for planning in London are required to provide a detailed energy assessment as part of their planning application. The GLA has provided developers with additional guidance setting out in detail on how these assessments should be undertaken and, as a result of new planning energy targets being proposed by the Mayor (see below), a revised energy assessment guidance document has just been released.

The guidance has been updated to align with the Mayor’s recent proposals, set out in a draft Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) document on sustainable design and construction, that states that from 1st of October 2013, the Mayor will apply the 40% carbon reduction target (beyond Part L 2010) to all planning applications. This target has been set to work to the Government’s long-standing commitment for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016.

Things have however become more complicated in the past few weeks… The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has recently announced a step-back in carbon requirements in their new building regulations standards for England, which will now come into operation with a delayed start-date of April 2014. At the same time however, the Government has continued to state their continued commitment to the 2016 zero carbon target. The GLA’s guidance document attempts to address this with the following statement:

“At this stage the target will remain 40% beyond 2010 Building Regulations. Following the announcement regarding the proposed changes to Part L of the Building Regulations by the Department of Communities and Local Government on the 30th July 2013 along with any new modelling considerations the Mayor is reviewing the implications for new developments. A further update of this guidance will be issued, if necessary, to reflect the changes to Part L of the Building Regulations coming into effect on the 6 April 2014 and the conclusions of the Housing Standards Review. This update will also reflect any changes to the Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Sustainable Design and Construction arising following consultation.”

The recently released GLA monitoring report on the implementation of the London Plan’s energy policies  clearly shows that the development industry can respond to challenging planning energy targets, and London is now seeing significant growth in climate-friendly buildings which are both highly energy efficient, and are also generating a proportion of their own heat and power needs through onsite decentralised energy generation technologies. At the same time, Government appears to be ignoring such evidence and is going backwards in its commitments on the development of low carbon buildings.

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