More costs and measures will worsen housing crisis, say builders


New biodiversity measures will result in more costs and more delays for the nation’s SME housebuilders, worsening the housing crisis, warns the Federation of Master Builders (FMB)

New biodiversity measures will result in more costs and more delays for the nation’s SME housebuilders, worsening the housing crisis, warns the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

It follows the recent announcement by Chancellor Philip Hammond in the Spring Statement that, from 2025, all new homes will be future-proofed as standard, with “low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency”.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The Chancellor claimed to support housing delivery but actions speak louder than words and the burdensome and poorly thought-through biodiversity targets for developers will bring yet more costs and more delays for builders. 

“Just as the environment for SME housebuilders starts to improve, these measures could end up stalling our progress. The Government wants to make developers, large and small, increase the biodiversity on their sites by a whopping 110 per cent and for an average site of ten units, the additional cost could be in excess of £2,000. Needless to say, this would also create delays to projects by adding additional hurdles for builders to negotiate during the already bureaucratic planning process.”

Berry concluded: “Rather than hampering the building of new homes, if the Government wants to be ‘more green’, it should focus instead on retrofitting the more than 24 million homes that have already been built and which account for around one fifth of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. This will not only help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint but will also tackle the scourge of fuel poverty.” 

Caroline Russell, Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, welcomed the move towards new homes that do not rely on fossil fuels, but felt the measures did not go far enough.

 “We need to confront the homes in the capital that do not meet even the most basic energy efficiency requirements as well as those which are failing to keep pace with modern ways of living. 

 “Our latest report Keeping Out The Chill calls for a widespread campaign of smart retrofitting that will save money, keep homes warm and dry and cut the amount of carbon-fuelled energy that is simply wasted.”