The newly published guidance will allow extended working hours on construction sites and provide measures to help the planning system operate remotely again.
The construction industry sustains hundreds of thousands of people in numerous roles and associated sectors, boosting local economies across the country.
Over the past week or so many house builders have commenced a gradual return to work, in a structured way that ensures the safety of its workforce and the general public.¬† The¬†resumption of work will play a major part in helping the economy recover as well as delivering the homes the country needs.
In a move to unlock the housing market, the Housing Secretary has today announced a series of measures to get the country building homes for the future, including:
- allowing builders to agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local council, such as staggering builders‚Äô arrival times, easing pressure on public transport
- enabling local councils and developers to publicise planning applications through social media instead of having to rely on posters and leaflets, helping to unblock the service
- support for smaller developers by allowing them to defer payments to local councils, helping those struggling with their cash flow while ensuring communities still receive funding towards local infrastructure in the longer term
Changes to the planning system
Builders will now be allowed to agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local council. This will make it easier to follow public health guidance onsite and stagger builders‚Äô arrival times, making public transport less busy and so reducing the risk of infection.
Additionally, new regulations will allow planning authorities and developers to publicise planning applications through social media instead of having to rely on posters and letters, helping unblock the service and allowing it to support new development.
The government is also providing local councils with more flexibility to support smaller developers by allowing them to defer Community Infrastructure Levy payments.
This will help smaller developers struggling with their cashflow due to the pandemic while ensuring communities still receive funding towards local infrastructure in the longer term.
Safe Working Charter
A new Safe Working Charter has been launched by the government and the Home Builders Federation, helping construction sites reopen in line with health guidance.
The Charter is for housebuilders of all size, including small and medium-sized enterprises. Signatories to the Charter have publicly committed to safe working practices in accordance with Government and Construction Leadership Council guidance.
The Charter enables housebuilders to make a common commitment to operate in line with safe working guidance. Construction companies signing up to the Charter commit to returning to work safely, including working with their subcontractors to develop detailed safe working practices. This helps give confidence to employees working on sites, and comfort to the public that work is being undertaken safely.
Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: “[The Charter] should also provide the supply chain with the confidence it needs to accelerate its own restart. The Charter is the public facing evidence which supports the very detailed protocols individual builders now have in place to ensure safe working on sites.”
John Newcomb, Chief Executive Office of the Builders Merchants Federation, added: “Safety has the highest priority as the industry returns to work. Over the past 3 weeks, since the publication of new branch operating guidelines, we have seen increasing numbers of merchants safely re-opening or expanding operations to support their trade customers.¬†House builders structured return to site provides even more confidence within the supply chain, and provides further evidence of the construction industry‚Äôs determination to assist in the recovery of the UK economy.”
Government guidance makes clear that tradespeople including fitters can operate in homes, provided they do so in line with health guidance. In accordance with the government’s guidance, anyone advised to self-isolate should continue to do so and not move home.
Show homes can also¬†re-open, following social distancing guidance.
The new measures build on action from the government to support the economy and protect the capacity of the construction sector, including:
- introducing more than¬†¬£330 billion of loans and guarantees to help firms continue operating
- deferring self-assessment payments until 2021 ‚Äď crucial for a sector in which many are self-employed
- providing households across the country with reassurance such as 3-month mortgage holidays, including for landlords, alongside a 3-month ban on tenant evictions
The government continues to listen to all parts of the housing industry to see what further support may be required.