The Week That Was - 1 April 2022

Published on 01 April 2022

Welcome to The Week That Was, a round-up of key events in the construction sector over the last seven days.

A Green Spring Clean

On 23 March 2022, HM Treasury confirmed in its Spring Statement that the Government will be setting out an energy security plan to support the UK's energy resilience and security.  This will include measures on hydrocarbons, nuclear energy and renewables. 

Other green announcements include:

  • VAT relief for energy-saving materials (ESMs) such as solar panels, heating pumps and roof insulation.  From April 2022, the government will increase the VAT relief on installation of ESMs further from 5% to a zero rate for five years.

  • The introduction of targeted business rate exemptions for eligible plant and machinery used in onsite renewable energy generation and storage will be brought forward by one year from April 2023 to April 2022 in England.  This is intended to support the decarbonisation of non-domestic buildings.  Local authorities will also be compensated for the loss of income as a result of the relief.

To read the full statement, please click here.

Updates to Form EWS1 and RICS Guidance Note

Form EWS1 has been updated following the withdrawal of the Government's Consolidated Advice Note, which covered measures that building owners should take to ensure their buildings are safe.  The EWS1 is used to report on the presence or absence of combustible material on the external facade of a residential building, and whether any remedial work may be required. 

Whilst the Government has stated that future assessments of building safety should now be carried out in accordance with British Standard PAS 9980:2022,  RICS disagrees.  It states that PAS 9980:2022 should not be used as a direct alternative to EWS1.  RICS has updated its valuation guidance for multi-storey and multi-occupancy residential buildings with cladding and retained its advice on the use of EWS1, adding it should be used in conjunction with PAS 9980:2022. 

Please click here for more information.

Tottenham Hotspur objects to Lendlease scheme next to stadium

Tottenham Hotspur football club has issued a last minute objection to Lendlease's proposed 3,000-home scheme adjacent to the club's stadium.  This has led to the planning decision being delayed until June 2022. 

Haringey Council had been due to hold a planning meeting in respect of Lendlease's scheme and was expected to approve the plans prior to Tottenham's objection.  The club's concerns focussed on 'public safety' due to crowd numbers, as the scheme's site sits directly between the nearest transport hub, White Hart Lane overground station, and the football club's stadium. Tottenham claimed that Lendlease's scheme 'inexplicably' failed to account for crowd control given the near 1 million people who pass through the area each year to its stadium (EDITORIAL NOTE: albeit with many Spurs fans realising that Brentford is the number one London football club, this number may reduce).  Haringey Council concluded it needed sufficient time to consider the concerns raised and, as such, delayed the planning decision to June 2022. 

The delay may prove a significant setback to the scheme, with local elections taking place in May 2022 which could result in new councillors and a new planning committee being elected with differing views on the proposal. 

For more information, please see here

Net zero goal at risk following situation in Ukraine 

The COP26 climate conference was intended to be a watershed moment for the 'net zero' energy movement.   Deals were agreed which represented major steps forward in limiting the use of traditional fossil fuels.  However, following the invasion of Ukraine and the Government's decision to phase out gas and oil imports from Russia, new energy sources will need to be identified. 

This may pose a risk to the net zero campaign as green commitments, which make using fossil fuels harder to justify, may be seen as limiting the options available to the government.  Furthermore, the ongoing increases in energy bills could result in a reduction in public support for net zero, particularly if the search for new energy sources drives costs up further.

However, it has been disputed that net zero would make people poorer.  Cundall, the construction engineering company, has noted that rising energy costs supports the argument in favour of making buildings more energy efficient, by using insulation retrofits and green heating systems like heat pumps. 

For more information, please see here

Government publishes leaseholder protections factsheet for Building Safety Bill 

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has published a factsheet explaining the protections for leaseholders under the Building Safety Bill (BSB). 

The leaseholder protections factsheet states that "developers are on the hook for fixing their own buildings".  However, in the minority of cases, where a developer cannot be traced or no longer exists then building owners will be required to pay for the remediation works.  The factsheet notes that leaseholder protections operate as a "waterfall", with developers paying first, then the building owners, and finally the leaseholders if building owners are unable to pay the full costs. 

The factsheet explains that: 

  • Qualifying leaseholders (those living in a flat which is their only principal home, in a building over 11 metres) will not have to pay for the remediation of unsafe cladding

  • Where building owners cannot afford to pay for non-cladding defects, they will be able to recoup some costs from the leaseholders (subject to a cap per leaseholder). 

The full fact sheet can be found here.

Thanks to Harry Collins, Tom Westford and Fiona Engledow for contributing to this week's edition.

Disclaimer: The information in this publication is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  We attempt to ensure that the content is current as at the date of publication, but we do not guarantee that it remains up to date.  You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content

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