Statement from Ecology Building Society following the publication of the Housing White Paper

7 February 2017

Earlier today the Government published their Housing White Paper, which aims to reform the housing market and increase the supply of housing in the UK.

Commenting on the publication of the Housing White Paper, Paul Ellis, CEO of Ecology Building Society said:

“While there is much to be welcomed in the long awaited Housing White Paper, it falls short of the strategic triple bottom line approach to the supply of housing needed to build a greener society. We’d like to see a policy framework that, as well as delivering the homes that are needed and where we need them, ensures that they are built to the highest energy efficiency and quality standards.

“As a long standing supporter of community-led housing we’re pleased to see that the Government now recognises the importance of a range of different housing tenures, including building affordable homes for rent.

“We also welcome the recent resurgence of interest in modern methods of construction including modular and off-site builds as we believe that these approaches offer the opportunity to design and quickly build highly energy efficient quality homes that deliver lower costs and less waste. Given our commitment to sustainability, we’ve always supported innovative materials and techniques such as SIPS, straw bale panels and I-beams and encouraged high standards of sustainable construction such as Passivhaus.

“The emphasis on ‘brownfield first’ development is important in order to remediate and bring derelict sites back into community use. We accept that, in exceptional circumstances and with local consent, there will be calls to consider sensitive and carefully planned developments in the green belt – which must be accompanied by necessary protections for natural treasures such as SSSIs, ancient woodlands and the extent of public open space.

“Finally, it’s also good to see the Government is considering proposals to strengthen the ability of local authorities to enforce a ‘use it or lose it’ approach to planning permission and shorten the period before development needs to start to two years. For too long major developers have been able to hold onto land with planning approval and benefit from inflated prices as they ration the supply of housing.

“However we were disappointed that the White Paper was silent on facing the challenge of renovating and retrofitting the UK’s poorly performing and inefficient legacy housing stock which makes up a large part of the 27% of UK COemissions from housing.”