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The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government published a Ministerial Statement on 25th March 2015.  This formed the culmination of the Housing Standards Review, which sought to rationalise the locally derived standards which are applied to new housing developments. Whilst the statement does not change any policy in the adopted development plan, it will constitute a material consideration when assessing proposed developments against the adopted policies. This note sets out how the city council will consider the Ministerial Statement in applying certain policies of the Portsmouth Plan.

Housing size

Internal space standards were adopted through policy PCS19 of the Portsmouth Plan and the Housing Standards Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). For any planning applications determined up to 30th September 2015, the existing, adopted internal space standards will continue to apply.

From 1st October 2015, the requirement to meet internal space standards for new homes will remain. However the specific size standards to be met will be taken from the Nationally Described Space Standard (set out in annex 1 of this note). Schemes which could be determined close to the changeover date should ideally be designed to the higher of the two standards which would apply in order to ensure that the scheme will always be compliant with the relevant size standard.

Sustainable design and construction

Specific standards of sustainable design and construction were adopted through the Portsmouth Plan and the Sustainable Design and Construction SPD. The Ministerial Statement will not result in any changes to how schemes for non-residential development will be assessed and any schemes involving the construction of more than 500m2 of
floorspace will need to continue to meet the ‘Excellent’ level of the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

The Ministerial Statement sets out that Local Planning Authorities should no longer require compliance with specific levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes (the Code) or to require a certain proportion of the Dwelling Emission Rate (DER) to be offset through Low or Zero Carbon (LZC) Energy. Policy PCS15 has required both of these in all new dwellings since its adoption in 2012. However the Statement does set out that a standard of energy and water efficiency above building regulations can still be required from new development in a way that is consistent with the Government’s proposed approach to zero carbon homes. As such, the standards of energy and water efficiency that will be required from new residential development are as follows:

  • Energy efficiency – a 19% improvement in the DER over the Target Emission Rate as defined in Part L1A of the 2013 Building Regulations
  • Water efficiency – 110 litres per person per day (this includes a 5 litre allowance for external water use).

These standards will remain in place until the zero carbon homes policy is brought into force in 2016, after which the same standard of energy efficiency will continue to be required, though this will purely be through the Building Regulations rather than through compliance with planning conditions.

Any schemes which already have planning permission accompanied by conditions requiring compliance with the Code should still meet the required standard, unless a variance of condition application is made.

Annex 1: The nationally described space standard

The Government published nationally described space standard deals with internal space within new dwellings and is suitable for application to housing of all tenures. It sets out requirements for the gross internal (floor) area (GIA) of new dwellings at a defined level of occupancy as well as floor areas and dimensions for key parts of the home, notably bedrooms, storage and floor to ceiling height. More detail is on the Government’s website.

Minimum floor areas and room widths for bedrooms together with the minimum floor areas for storage are also an integral part of the space standard. They cannot be used in isolation from other parts of the design standard or removed from it. The GIA of a dwelling is defined as the total floorspace measured between the internal faces of the perimeter walls that enclose the dwelling. This should be set out in square metres.

The standard requires that:
(a) the dwelling provides at least the gross internal floor area and built-in storage area set out in the table below
(b) a dwelling with two or more bedspaces has at least one double (or twin) bedroom
(c) in order to provide one bedspace, a single bedroom has a floor area of at least 7.5m2 and is at least 2.15m wide
(d) in order to provide two bedspaces, a double (or twin bedroom) has a floor area of at least 11.5m2
(e) one double (or twin bedroom) is at least 2.75m wide and every other double (or twin) bedroom is at least 2.55m wide
(f) any area with a headroom of less than 1.5m is not counted within the Gross Internal Area unless used solely for storage (if the area under the stairs is to be used for storage, assume a general floor area of 1m2 within the Gross Internal Area)
(g) any other area that is used solely for storage and has a headroom of 900-1500mm (such as under eaves) is counted at 50% of its floor area, and any area lower than 900mm is not counted at all
(h) a built-in wardrobe counts towards the Gross Internal Area and bedroom floor area requirements, but should not reduce the effective width of the room below the minimum widths set out above. The built-in area in excess of 0.72m2
in a double bedroom and 0.36m2 in a single bedroom counts towards the built-in storage requirement
(i) the minimum floor to ceiling height is 2.3m for at least 75% of the Gross Internal Area

Table 1 – minimum gross internal floor areas and storage (m2)

Number of bedroomsNumber of bed spaces (p)One storey dwellingTwo storey dwellingThree storey dwellingBuilt-in storage
1 bedroom1p39 (37) (Where a one person flat has a shower room rather than a bathroom, the floor area may be reduced from 39m2 to 37m2.)--1.0
1 bedroom2p5058-1.5
2 bedrooms3p6170-2.0
2 bedrooms4p7079-2.0
3 bedrooms4p7484902.5
3 bedrooms5p8693992.5
3 bedrooms6p951021082.5
4 bedrooms5p90971033.0
4 bedrooms6p991061123.0
4 bedrooms7p1081151213.0
4 bedrooms8p1171241303.0
5 bedrooms6p1031101163.5
5 bedrooms7p1121191253.5
5 bedrooms8p1211281343.5
6 bedrooms7p1161231294.0
6 bedrooms8p1251321384.0