Local leadership key to sustainable development drive

Local authority leadership is key in supporting the delivery of sustainable new homes and communities, a new green paper from the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has said.

The paper, The role of local leadership in creating sustainable homes, recognises ‘the scaling back of ambitions for zero carbon and sustainable new homes by national government in recent years’, including the scrapping of the Zero Carbon 2016 target (which had been in place for nearly a decade) and the wind-down of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

UK-GBC highlight how councils should take the lead in improving the standards of new-build housing in their regions. This can be done by requiring higher building standards on their own land, using tools like Open Book Viability, and running energy companies, as well as a range of other policy innovations.

The paper also reviews what devolution deals could offer, considering the potential for cities to develop spatial plans for the whole area; work with industry to develop standards for higher quality homes; and bring budgets together to tackle health and housing issues holistically.

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of UK Green Building Council, said: “In the current policy landscape, with ambition in sustainable housing at a national level falling short, it is vital we consider how local and city authorities can play a leadership role. This is the only way we will meet our stretching carbon reduction targets and deliver genuinely sustainable places.

“This paper proposes that cities should learn from existing best practices in respect of planning and design tools, and drive up sustainability standards for housing on their own land. It also suggests advocating for new powers under devolution, which would enable them to work in partnership with industry to raise the bar for new-build housing in their jurisdiction. We look forward to the views of stakeholders on our proposals.”

UK-GBC is running the Sustainable Cities Leadership Summit in Leeds on Monday 23 January - http://www.ukgbc.org/campaigns-policy/campaigns/cities/leeds-2017