Local councils

Our work with councils includes the development of policy, and gathering the evidence to support policy on areas such as energy efficiency and renewable energy in new and existing buildings, and climate change.

We have worked with a number of councils to facilitate and manage the development of new strategies and the restructuring of departments. And in response to specific requests we have written and developed a number of training courses for local councils on planning policy, low and zero carbon building, climate change, and renewable energy.

With the introduction of the Green Deal and ECO we are working with a number of local councils to plan how to continue to deliver energy efficiency and affordable energy improvements to housing stock.

Recent case study

Building the evidence base for new energy and environmental policy

Environmental performance standards for new domestic and non-domestic buildingsHow do you assemble the evidence to support a brand new policy when by definition there will be nothing empirical to show if it has worked in the past or is likely to work in the future?

This is a common dilemma for local councils writing new policy or updating existing policies such as Core Strategies and Local Plans. We have worked with local councils including Milton Keynes, South Cambridgeshire, Cambridge City, Huntingdonshire, Sedgemoor and Bristol to square this circle.

Recently in Bristol we helped the council to develop proposals for new environmental performance standards for new domestic and non-domestic buildings in the centre of the city as part of revisions to the Core Strategy.

The work focused on policy for new residential and non-residential buildings and a proposal to set energy and environmental standards well in excess of Building Regulations.

To test the case (and evidence) for and against new standards we started by reviewing national and local planning policy, including the existing policy in the city. We also examined national and local studies on the cost of implementing enhanced building standards, albeit at different levels to those under consideration. And we consulted with developers on the likely costs of meeting higher standards, and the opportunities for reducing the ‘extra-over’ costs.

New energy and environmental policy

Finally, we asked what benefits there would be from higher environmental standards for both the council and residents and occupants of new buildings in the city.

The findings of the study were used to create a draft evidence base which was tested for robustness against previous decisions made by planning inspectors supporting and rejecting applications for higher environmental standards.

At the conclusion of this exercise we produced three options for consideration by the council covering residential developments of fewer than 100 units, those with more than 100 units and non-residential developments.

Following initial consultation two of these options have now been taken forward for detailed consideration by the council.

Resources for Local councils

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