More work needed to “change mindsets” on environmentally-friendly homes

Both builders and council planning chiefs need to be more aware of environmental impacts of house building in the city, a report has claimed.

Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 6:00 am

Leeds City Council had declared a climate emergency earlier this year, claiming it wanted to become a carbon neutral council by the year 2030.

But the authority also has targets to build 52,000 new houses over the next decade, and a report set to go before the council’s climate emergency committee claims that planners need to have more knowledge to make environmentally sound decisions on potential developments.

The suggestion forms part of five objectives listed in the report, which also includes encouraging developers to “change mindsets”, as well as putting pressure on national government to introduce more environmentally friendly regulations.

Councillors need more information to decide on how eco-friendly new houses are, a report has claimed.

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The report stated: “The statutory planning system is one of the main ways in which climate change can be mitigated and can help places be more resilient to its impacts because it has a key role in place-making by shaping the use of land and buildings through the grant of planning permission in line with a Development Plan.”

It stated, however, that current rules do not target policies for climate change, meaning the information, such as the energy efficiency of new houses once built, is difficult to find out. It also claimed that a lack of resources “has meant a loss of skills on energy and climate change”.

The report added: “A means of engaging with the development industry is to be established with the view of changing the current mind set of developers.

“An approach to this would be to establish a forum which will provide a basis for ongoing discussions with relevant stakeholders in the development industry in Leeds about achieving the roadmap to lower carbon targets in Leeds up to 2030. The forum will provide an industry view on the planning, energy and building issues arising and seek innovative ways to help achieve these targets.”

Under another objective, entitled “increase the knowledge of planners and plans panel members to take more effective development decisions”, it added that new training programmes and guidance notes to help councillors and officers challenge developments’ environmental credentials should also be introduced.

The climate emergency advisory committee is set to meet on Wednesday, October 23.