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Will Electric Vehicles Drive The Future Of Home Planning?

Posted 15 June 2022 by Keith Osborne

Durkan's Bill Beyzade provides his thoughts on the possible impact of electric cars on future new homes schemes...

Bill Beyzade, managing director of housebuilding at Durkan, provides his opinion on the possible impact of electric cars on future homes.

At the close of 2021, the government announced that all newly built homes (and offices, supermarkets and buildings undergoing major renovations) in England will need to have an electric vehicle (EV) charging point as standard from 2022 onwards.

This was followed by the introduction of the UK EV infrastructure strategy, that sets out the action plan for developing EV charging infrastructure within the United Kingdom. Within this policy document is the ambition to support the UK market to reach 300,000 public EV charge points by 2030 – equivalent to almost five times the number of fuel pumps on our roads today.

This directive from government is welcome, but the industry needs to be aware of, and address, the potential implications for the customer when purchasing a home. There are a number of considerations in terms of costs, maintenance and upkeep. It is also important to explore whether the supply chain can keep pace with the immediate short-term demand that will be triggered by this policy.

So, what does this mean for the future of home planning, both for customers and the housing sector at large?

We know that place and human outcomes are intertwined. Therefore, one fundamental question presents itself here: what will a future home or development look like, and how can EV infrastructure become an integral part of that vision?

The introduction of EV charging points is another key consideration for us to place into our initial planning thought process, just like the challenge of positioning air source heat pumps (ASHP) with the phasing out of gas boilers.

When looking to plan and create a great “place”, incorporating the competing requirements of current and future technology seamlessly is key to creating a “place” which makes people welcome and comfortable and allows them to move freely within the surroundings and not be occupied by unsightly cables and potential trip hazards, or a mass of ASHPs on the side of an apartment building.

The way in which developments are designed, from car parking spaces to communal areas and site floorplans, will need to factor in the necessity to host charging points for electric vehicles. It’s a continuing challenge, for developers to bring a truly sustainable site to life.

EV chargingParking spaces need to be designed and mapped out to provide community charging areas or single charge points while still maximising the available space. This is particularly a consideration for apartments, where shared charging areas will be needed. The announcement will change how sites are master planned and how construction takes place.

A design on its own is never enough, you have to think carefully about how the built form and the new technologies we are embracing to improve our impact on our planet, will sit comfortably in the existing and new environment to ensure they will not detract from the “place” we are trying to create. When we look to create a new community, all the key attributes of the location are to be reviewed alongside relevant regulations / policies that govern how new homes and communities should be brought to life.

There is also a point to be made about planning policy moving towards greener placemaking. For example, it is compulsory for SuDS to be considered in planning applications for major developments. If we consider that the requirement for EV charge points at all new builds means we may need to go back to everybody having a car on a paved drive, does that make it harder for the planning system to enforce SUDS requirements? It could be the case that this is a catalyst for new technologies and means of construction to come to the fore, further promoting innovation in the industry.

Developers that will now be providing EV charging points at regularly used locations for vehicle owners (at home and at work) will help to bridge the gap in current EV charging provision that is deterring consumers from purchasing EVs. It’s a linked-up approach that will not only contribute to a low carbon future, but centre sustainability at the core of placemaking for years to come.

Some developers, Durkan included, will have already considered the need for renewable pathways and have put down cables at their developments, meaning EV charging points can be installed quickly and efficiently for the homeowner. Future schemes with charge points will need more electrical network capacity and although in the short-term, adding these points to developments will be straight forward, the sector also needs to consider how it can to upscale in years to come. When planning developments and targeting a certain percentage of electric charger provision, there needs to be sufficient capacity to deal with demand.

One thing is clear; charging station infrastructure for electric vehicles should offer an interoperable experience based on any car model. This opens up the market and further promotes the accessibility to generic infrastructure that drivers need. However, as the technology and capacity for electric vehicles develops, it is also important to think about the impact on the homeowner, both in terms of cost but also in the potential disruption caused by maintenance and upgrades.

There are unique challenges ahead and it’s critical that housebuilders and developers consider mitigating future costs to the customer. It is not yet clear how this will be achieved but it’s important to engage widely, engage deeply and engage early with government, local planning authorities and the development supply chain to ensure a seamless transition to electric vehicle use for customers, no matter what stage they are at on that journey. New builds can’t soar in price to cover additional costs, because customers already face challenges taking steps onto, or up, the property ladder. And at present, the purchase of EV vehicles still attracts a premium that many can’t afford in the first place.

Care, attention, understanding of modern technologies and good planning from the outset for today and tomorrow is required from those responsible for creating homes, homes which are capable and adaptable to deal with the changing pace of technology we are seeing on the built environment we are creating today.

The push for electric vehicles is welcome, but it is inter-reliant on Government and the sector working together as part of a holistic approach. As housebuilders, it is critical we consider not just the here and now but the long-term. This careful approach to placemaking needs to work for all and is one that requires detailed planning and consideration.

Durkan is an independent housebuilding, construction and refurbishment company with over 50 years’ experience. Durkan’s work encompasses all aspects of the development process, from land purchase through to construction and after sales care. Find out more at www.durkan.co.uk.

 

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