Mid Suffolk Council has begrudgingly voted to allow a developer to scrap an air source heat pump add-on option at its Stowmarket development.

Crest Nicholson was required to offer buyers an option to add-on an air source heat pump for their new home, but the developer said there had been no uptake of the £20,000 extra in the first phase of construction.

Instead, the second phase of the 258-home development will have heat pumps as standard, a requirement expected to be set out in the national Future Homes Standards which come in next year.

Michael Smith, the agent representing the developer, said: “This application has been presented to you asking to remove the requirement for air source heat pumps as an optional extra but it shouldn’t be viewed as a developer trying to avoid their responsibilities.

“The heating and hot water system for a gas boiler is completely different to those for an air source heat pump meaning having it as an optional extra isn’t a cheap choice and it isn’t as simple as swapping a boiler for a heat pump.”

“The difficulty we have is the condition offers something people don’t want and what we want is to move onto a different standard that does better. So I see no point in keeping it in planning terms - it is doing nothing. It is a pointless condition that is going nowhere. We can do better if we guarantee the second half of the site is built under the new conditions.”

Crest Nicholson was charging £20,000 on top of the home purchase price for installation of the heat pump, resulting in no uptake so far in the six months since sales have begun.

The developer, which is halfway through the first phase of building, began construction before an energy and sustainability strategy was approved by the council.

Many councillors were exasperated by the lack of options available to the committee as it is now too late to have air source heat pumps in all properties on the site.

East Anglian Daily Times:

Councillor Nicholas Hardingham said: “As I understand it, the second phase will be built after the Future Homes Standard comes into force and it would be obligatory to install air source heat pumps on all the properties.

“In that case, the developer is not making a concession in this instance towards combatting climate change. In other words, they’re doing the bare minimum.”

With the new agreement, 54% of the properties on the site will have heat pumps at the developers expense.