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Communities and Local Government’s (CLG) vision is of prosperous and cohesive communities, offering a safe, healthy and sustainable environment for all.

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The UK’s latest set of climate projections (UKCP09), published in June 2009, set out scenarios for our changing climate. Over the coming decades we are likely to experience warmer wetter winters, hotter drier summers, sea level rise and more extreme weather events like heat waves and heavy rain increasing the risk of flooding.

CLG has a big role in facing up to these challenges because we are responsible for the framework of long term decision making on planning and housing, and because of our responsibilities for local government.

This framework will shape places people will want to live in with safe, comfortable homes, and make our communities more resilient to the impacts of flooding, coastal change, heat waves and drought, contributing to improving the quality of life, social justice and healthy economic growth and jobs.

What has been done?

Planning is a powerful tool for helping shape cities and towns so they provide good places to live in a changing climate. This is why adaptation should be central to planning sustainable communities.

Our Departmental Adaptation Plan draws on the latest UKCP09 climate projections and sets out how we will help people and communities in England adapt and be resilient to future changes in our climate. The Plan focuses on action we have identified for the next two years and on our immediate priorities.

CLG has already:

  • Built in clear expectations on adaptation into the planning system: national policy statements on major infrastructure projects, regional strategies and local development documents must all take account of a changing climate.
  • Published for consultation a draft new planning policy on climate change which puts shaping new development to minimise its vulnerability to the impacts of climate change at the heart of the planning system.
  • Published new planning policy on coastal change published as a supplement to PPS25 which provide a planning framework for the continuing economic and social viability of coastal communities in areas of coastal change.
  • Published PPS 25: Development and Flood Risk which takes a strategic approach to ensure that flood risk is taken into account at all stages in the planning process to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding.
  • Published Planning Policy Statement: eco-towns (a supplement to PPS1) Eco-towns provide an opportunity to develop exemplar green developments, designed to meet the highest standards of sustainability, including low and zero carbon technologies and to trial and demonstrate the latest advances in adaptation.
  • Developed proposals for new planning policy (Planning for a Natural and Healthy Environment) which emphasises the role of green infrastructure in providing flood water storage and sustainable drainage systems alongside many other ecosystem services.
  • Introduced higher standards for building new publicly-funded social housing - Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes which includes a water efficiency standard of 105 litres of water use per person per day
  • Made a requirement on the builder to consider heat gains as well as heat losses in domestic buildings, to manage energy demand.
  • Adaptation is being built into the development of the Thames Gateway and the Olympics legacy www.communities.gov.uk/thamesgateway/about

For further full details please see www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/about

Ongoing actions include:

  • Promoting adaptation as part of our rolling programme of review of Building Regulations; through our further development of the Code for Sustainable Homes and through work with the Technology Strategy Board to promote good adaptation by design.
  • The introduction of a new minimum water efficiency standard of 125 litres per person per day for all new homes from April 2010 compared to the national average of approximately 150 litres per day.
  • To establish a Retrofit Consortium of large scale public and private sector organisations to work together, share their knowledge, experience, and research, and access the latest energy efficiency technologies, encouraging innovation and economies of scale to deal with adaptation, as part of our wider efforts to reduce carbon emissions from existing buildings.
  • To work to include adaptation, such as water efficiency, alongside carbon reduction in our new Warm Homes standard for retrofit investment in social housing and in our wider work helping home owners take action.

The Department’s Priorities

Encouraging owners to take timely action to improve the resilience of buildings to climate change.

CLG’s focus is upon developing  policies which ensure that:

  • We are resilient to current risks
  • What we build now will be fit for purpose during its planned lifetime
  • We avoid boxing ourselves in and allow flexible pathways
  • We avoid unintended consequences and maladaptation as a result of our wider work programmes.

We also need to ensure our policies are fair. Vulnerable groups may be particularly affected by climate impacts. Already planning policies and investment in flood protection for instance aim to protect high risk properties and households, and to prevent inappropriate development in high risk areas. Ensuring that vulnerable groups are not disadvantaged is a key principle.

Page last modified: 31 March 2010
Page published: 24 July 2008

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