Planning Legislation and Taxation Policy need Alignment.

16 March 2023

Planning Changes going through Parliament

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is currently in the committee Stage in the House of Lords. The Bill includes changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  However planning changes do need to be developed alongside tax policy which at present appears to be lacking.

The UK Green Building Council calculates that demolition and excavation contributes 60 per cent to the UK’s waste output. The built environment is meanwhile responsible for about 40 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions.

Although new buildings can be more energy-efficient, the council says it can take decades to compensate for the loss of carbon embodied in the demolished structure. This makes retrofitting a more environmentally viable decision.

Local Planning Authorities are producing local policies.

The City of London, to support reducing the Square Mile’s carbon footprint,  is asking that Developers to consider alternatives to demolition at the earliest stage of the planning process.

The City of London Corporation is the first planning authority in the country to issue planning guidance to require developers to conduct a detailed review of the carbon impact of development options before submitting an application.

Developers will need to consider refurbishing existing buildings rather than replacing them with brand new structures, to reduce embodied carbon – the emissions produced during construction.

The City Corporation’s Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Optioneering Planning Advice Note, was adopted following a consultation with industry experts and other stakeholders which garnered ‘broad support’

The new guidance applies to major developments – those greater than 1,000 sq m of floorspace – and developments which propose knocking down most of the existing structure.

Recent examples of buildings to be refurbished rather than demolished include the redevelopment of Fleet House, in New Bridge Street, which was approved by the City Corporation in January and will see almost three quarters of the existing structure retained.

More information about the guidance is on the City of London website.

Is the Treasury aligned?

The Victorian Society, and others, have pointed to the ‘perverse’ tax incentives for demolition and rebuild, which benefits from 0 per cent VAT on fees, compared with the 20 per cent VAT levied on repair and maintenance work.  This encourages Developers to redevelop or to seek out vacant land. 

Joined up Government is required to align policies on what we should be building or refurbishing and taxation policies.

Is the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the Treasure talking on this matter to get consistency?

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