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Last edited 29 Mar 2019
Bricks and Water: A plan of action for building homes and managing water in England
On 19 June 2018, the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum (WSBF) published ‘Bricks and Water: A plan of action for building homes and managing water in England’, an evaluation of the way water and housing policy is being implemented in England, aimed at formulating a plan of action for building homes and managing water.
The structure and content of the report was informed by a steering group including politicians and representatives from industry and academia. It was co-chaired by Angela Smith MP and Baroness McIntosh, both of whom have considerable experience in the water sector.
The key findings of the report are:
- By 2050, with a projected population increase of 8.7 million, water demand could exceed supply by up to 22%.
- By 2050, 129% more homes (nearly 2.5 million) may be at risk of flooding.
- By 2050, an additional 4 billion litres of water will be required.
- The design of new-build houses must consider water efficiency and flood resistance.
- Continuing cuts to the budgets of environment bodies negatively impacts on their ability discharge their responsibilities.
- There has been limited progress on adapting communities to climate change, and just 42% of local authorities have an adaptation plan/strategy.
- There is no designated forum for problem-solving between water companies, housebuilders and local authorities.
- The planning system is overloaded and too focused on local issues.
- Water is not sufficiently factored into value-for-money decisions at the institutional or householder level and the importance of water efficiency measures is not recognised adequately.
- Evidence suggests that new homes tend to be less water efficient than expected.
- Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) have not become the norm with developers, drainage engineers or housebuilders.
- The UK risks a lack of environmental standards if they are no longer legally enforced independently post-Brexit.
The report made the following recommendations:
- The government should urgently introduce a mandatory ‘Bricks and Water Sustainability Code’ as a tougher and simpler planning framework.
- The Environment Secretary’s new strategic body should be truly independent and provide leadership on water management.
- Water issues should be tackled at the sub-national as well as national level to address flooding challenges.
- Property Resilience Certificates (based on BRE’s Home Quality Mark), and water efficiency labelling for fixtures and fittings should be introduced.
- Green, rather than concrete, infrastructure should be prioritised as the norm for homes and communities.
- DEFRA should prioritise the management of water as a public good.
The Westminster Sustainable Business Forum (WSBF) is a high-level coalition of key UK businesses, parliamentarians, civil servants and other organisations, seeking to promote effective sustainability policy in the UK. It is part of Policy Connect, a cross-party think tank that seeks to improve people’s lives by influencing public policy.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Flood and Water Management Act
- Groundwater control in urban areas.
- Home Quality Mark.
- Sustainable urban drainage systems.
- Sustainable water.
- The State of the Environment: Water Resources.
- Trading systems for water resources.
- Urban water systems management: A data analytics approach EP 105.
- Water Act 2014.
- Water efficiency – The next big sustainability issue?
- Water framework directive.
- Water industry pressures.
- Water investment.
- Water transfers and interconnections.
- World Water Day.
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