The ambition is for private developers to adopt the ‘Welsh Development Quality Requirements 2021 - Creating Beautiful Homes and Places’, by 2025.
Homes will need to reach the highest energy efficiency standards to reduce carbon use during build and when inhabited. As well as sector leading space standards, developers will need to consider recycling and food waste storage under the new rules. Wales currently ranks number three on the world recycling leader board, but is striving for a zero waste future.
This bold move underpins the Welsh Government’s commitment to build 20,000 high quality, low carbon homes for rent over the next five years. Social housing built with Welsh Government funding will ‘trailblaze’ the new standards.
The new rules are significant to Welsh Government’s response to the climate emergency and commitment to drive down emissions to reach the ambitious ‘net zero carbon by 2050’ goal. In Wales, residential emissions make up 10% of all carbon emissions.
Beyond low carbon targets, the standards also require new properties to be ‘gigabit ready’, meaning fibre optic broadband or gigabit wireless technology is available, alongside a choice of internet service providers. Where this currently isn’t in place, infrastructure to enable future installation without disruption must be provided.
These changes are particularly timely following the pandemic, which saw much of the country needing to learn and work from home, as they recognise a future of flexible working.
The new standards also favour good design and generous space so people live well within their homes.
This is not only aimed to boost wellbeing and keep communities together, but to respond to the changing needs of residents, such as ample floor space to ensure adaptations for older and disabled people can be facilitated.
Modern methods of construction, such as the use of timber and factory built homes are also championed in the new guidelines.
Minister for Climate Change Julie James said:
“Our new ‘Creating Beautiful Homes and Places’ building standards show the bold and immediate action we are taking in responding to the climate emergency. How we live and heat our homes over the coming years will be pivotal in reaching our net zero goals.
“Curbing the worst impacts of climate change is a matter of social justice, but so is ensuring people have access to internet in their homes, and enough space to live well. These standards ensure all of these targets are met as they reflect our modern ways of living and changing lifestyle needs.
“Making use of innovative construction methods and design, I have every confidence the social housing sector will prove themselves trailblazers of the ambitious standards, as they deliver on our pledge to build 20,000 low carbon homes for rent over the next five years.”
Clarissa Corbisiero, Director of Policy and External Affairs and Deputy Chief Executive at Community Housing Cymru said:
“These new standards for social homes put Wales at the forefront of measures to ensure housing can play its full role in tackling the climate emergency. They will mean lower energy bills for tenants, as well as increased space and access to high speed broadband. Ahead of this year’s Senedd elections, we were clear in our manifesto that these were all key priorities for housing associations in Wales, and we welcome this step towards creating homes that are fit for the future.
“To support housing associations to deliver on these commitments, Welsh Government must ensure that recent record investment in social housing continues and is focused on the new technologies and materials required to build new good quality affordable homes at pace and scale.”