Property development given the 'green' light

2 October 2019

With climate change very much in the public eye, and the steady rise of electric car usage, the Government are considering the wider impact on infrastructure and property development.  It has recently launched two public consultations:

  • The first on its plans to expand building regulations (in respect of England) to require all ‘new’ buildings to be electric vehicle (‘EV’) ready; and
  • The second on its plans to create EV ‘smart charging’ points to ensure that such EV points can cope with the extra electricity demands.

These consultations of course follow (and are aiming to achieve) the Government’s target of to ensure that no new petrol and diesel cars are sold in the UK from 2040 (the Government’s Road to Zero strategy).  Both consultations are currently live and are due to close on the 7 October 2019.

Consultation on Building Regulations

The consultation is proposing the following:

Residential Buildings:

  • Every new residential building with an associated car parking space is to have a charge point. To include buildings undergoing a material change of use to create a dwelling; and
  • Every residential building undergoing major renovation with more than 10 car parking spaces to have cable routes for electric vehicle charge points in every car parking space.

Commercial Buildings:

  • Every new non-residential building and every non-residential building undergoing a major renovation with more than 10 car parking spaces to have one charge point and cable routes for an electric vehicle charge point for one in five spaces; and
  • A requirement of at least one charge point in existing non-residential buildings with more than 20 car parking spaces, applicable from 2025.

Whilst these proposals are clearly a step in the right direction, it does raise a number of further questions:

  • What is the position in respect of existing residential buildings?  Clearly building regulations cannot play a part (unless substantial renovation is taking place), but there does not appear to be any focus on existing housing stock. 
  • Will there be help for those without EV points (the cost to retrofit is expected to be almost double that to install at the outset)? There appears to be a risk of creating a two tier property market, those EV ready and those not, particularly when traditional fuel based cars become obsolete?
  • What about listed buildings, can sensitive EV’s be established, that can be used at such properties, without affecting the historic fabric of the property;
  • How future proof are ‘charging points’, there is clearly a need, but in 20 years’ time how we charge is likely to be drastically different to how it is done now.

Consultation on Smart Charging

Whilst the first consultation focuses on the implementation and provision of EV charging points, this consultation seeks to introduce minimum standards for such EV charge points.  The principle minimum standard the Government wants to ensure is that all EV charge points are ‘smart’.  This means that the charge point gives the user/consumer the choice and flexibility as to when the wish to charge, allowing them to choose the time of day for charging and speed for charging remotely.  The advantage for this is twofold, for the consumer, it can choose to charge at ‘off-peak’ times (say for example overnight, rather than immediately upon arrival at home after work between 5-7pm), and for the environment, it reduces the burden on the electricity supplies during such peak times.

The shift from fossil fuels to EV’s is likely to bring about a drastic change in the habits of EV users.  Once EV’s are the norm, it follows that charging of the EV’s will predominantly occur at the home, or at individual spaces in public car parks/office car parks.  With the introduction of smart charging, we are likely to see new ‘spikes’ in electricity usage that do not follow the ‘traditional’ pattern.  The effects of this on the grid are not yet know, but this consultation is seeking to minimise the impact and maximise the benefits of EV’s.

Further information 

If you have any questions or require property law advice, please contact the Real Estate and Construction team.

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