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Local authorities to report on improving efficiency and sustainability standards in 2017

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 (the Act) includes a provision obliging local authorities to prepare reports on the efficiency and sustainability of their buildings.

Although the relevant section is not yet in force, local authorities need to think about their duties now as the obligation begins in 2017.

Which authorities are affected?

The duty applies to those authorities listed in section 20 of the Act. County councils, district councils, London borough councils and the Greater London Authority are all included, as are other bodies such as Transport for London and National Park authorities.

What do they have to do?

From 2017 they have to prepare an annual report. This must contain an assessment of the progress made towards improving the efficiency and sustainability of buildings that are part of the authority's estate. The report must include details of the extent to which the authority is progressing towards:

  • reducing the size of its estate; and
  • ensuring that buildings that become part of its estate fall within the top quartile of energy performance.

If an authority acquires a building that does not fall within the top quartile of energy performance, it will have to explain why it has acquired it.

What will the impact be?

A building will be part of an authority's estate if it is situated in the authority's area and the authority has a freehold or leasehold interest in it. Local authorities could find themselves under a huge administrative burden in terms of reporting.

From 2017, local authorities will have to ensure that they scrutinise the energy efficiency credentials of any properties that they are looking to acquire. If they fall below the top quartile of energy performance (not defined in the Act), the authority will need to be able to provide a reasonable explanation as to why the property was acquired.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at June 2016. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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