New guidance for building suitable waste storage for flats

New guidance was published yesterday (31 March) to encourage housing planners and developers to design adequate recycling, food waste and refuse storage and collection systems in new-build flats in London to ‘help Londoners recycle more and manage waste more effectively’.

 New guidance for building suitable waste storage for flats

Commissioned by the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and the London Environment Directors’ Network (LEDNET) in response to the ‘potentially negative impact on recycling rates caused by the growth in the population and subsequent housing stock’, the work was undertaken by a consultancy partnership formed by BPP Consulting LLP and SOENECS Ltd (SOENECS & BPP).

It is hoped that the guidance will help London meet its 50 per cent recycling target by 2020 by overcoming barriers to recycling in flatter properties.

‘Housing developments in London should be leading the way’

The guidance package includes:

  • a template planning strategy for developers to complete at pre-application stage (which helps demonstrate how they have considered how waste and recycling will be managed from within the resident’s home to disposal);
  • a template waste management policy for all London boroughs;
  • a project report including a review of policy and planning guidance; and
  • case studies demonstrating both UK and international examples of good waste management in high-rise buildings.

According to the planning policy document, the key considerations for designing waste management solutions in flatted properties should also include:

  • adequate temporary storage space within each flat/apartment for waste generated by that flat/apartment allowing for the separate storage of recyclable materials;
  • adequate communal storage for waste, including separate recyclables, pending its collection;
  • high-quality design storage and collection systems (e.g. dedicated rooms, storage areas and chutes or underground waste collection systems), for waste that are incorporated in a manner that will ‘ensure there is adequate and convenient access for all residents and waste collection operatives and will contribute to the achievement of London Plan waste management targets’;
  • measure to manage, to acceptable levels, impacts on amenity including those that may be caused by odour, noise, and dust;
  • consideration to any on-site treatment of waste facilities; and
  • adequate contingency measures to manage any mechanical breakdowns.

It is hoped that all London boroughs will adopt this planning policy, sending the message that ‘designing recycling and waste management solutions can no longer be an afterthought’.

‘New build flats aren’t designed to take recycling and waste solutions into account’

Jamie Blake, LEDNET Project Lead and Service Head for the Public Realm at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, said: “Having received a number of plans for high-rise developments with unworkable waste management solutions, we recognised there was a serious problem.

“With pressure from the EU to increase recycling targets even further in future, local authorities run the risk of missing those targets because new build flats aren’t designed to take recycling and waste solutions into account.

“Housing developments in London should be leading the way, helping the capital to become a sustainable city, not making it more difficult to do the right thing.  A proper solution needs to be designed in at the front end.”

Wayne Hubbard, Chief Operating Officer for LWARB, added: “We want the development and building community to consider waste and recycling as a utility. Boroughs are under increasing pressure to separate out waste for recycling which often cannot be managed in existing flats due to storage issues.

“Higher levels of recycling will not be achieved if collections from flats do not improve. This guidance is a great starting point for London’s planners and developers; it should help them design sustainable waste solutions that are easy for residents to use and helpful to those collecting their rubbish and recycling.”

Focus on waste storage design

The flatted properties guidance comes just weeks after Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles praised new guidance released by house-building advisory group the National House-Building Council (NHBC) Foundation, which aims to ‘tackle the scourge of bin blight’.

The document, ‘Avoiding Rubbish Design: Providing for bin storage on new housing developments’, highlights that building developers must do more to ensure the provision of adequate space for waste and recycling containers to ‘bring benefits both in terms of reducing visual impacts but also of improving convenience for the people living in new homes’.

Options could include:

  • free-standing, purpose-built bin storage in the front, back or sides of semi-detached houses (such as that at Horsted Park, Chatham);
  • free-standing, built-in, communal, or semi-integrated storage at the front for terraced housing (such as that at Kidbrooke Village in Greenwich);
  • free-standing, built-in, or semi-integrated communal storage for apartment buildings (such as that at Ingress Park in Dartford or Trumpington Meadows in Cambridge); and
  • underground bin storage for large apartment blocks or areas of high-density housing (such as that used in apartment blocks in Tower Hamlets, London).

Read the LWARB/LEDNET guidance, or the NHBC guidance.

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