Electric vehicle (EV) charging legislation for developments in the UK

An overview of how the government is looking to use planning regulation to ensure the provision of chargepoints in developments.

Summary

The UK government is using planning regulations as part of its strategy to facilitate mass adoption of electric vehicles in the UK. Its long term objective is to ensure a chargepoint is installed in every home with parking.

  • The government seeks to implement UK wide legislation for the inclusion of charging points in new developments.
  • Existing local policies include the London plan and Edinburgh Design Guide.
  • These specify that a certain percentage of parking spaces in new developments are equipped with either active or passive EV charging.

The objective of EV charging provision regulations

The government intends to ensure that all vehicles sold by 2040 are zero emission. The electric vehicle (EV) represents the best and most viable zero emission option.

In order to encourage swift uptake the charging infrastructure must develop everywhere we park our cars, slightly ahead of organic demand from drivers.

  • The government may make some direct investments to seed the market and address any ongoing/potential areas of market failure.
  • However, the government’s view is that most charging infrastructure will be privately funded.
  • To encourage this, they plan to use planning regulations to ensure adequate charging infrastructure is provided in developments with suitable parking.

Tip: Requirements for high proportions of charging point provision can exceed the site’s supply. In order to mitigate this, Pod Point offer load balancing solutions which increase the maximum number of chargepoints you can power from a given supply. You can ask our specialist team for advice on your specific circumstances.

What are the current regulatory requirements for the provision of electric vehicle charging?

At present there is no UK wide regulatory or legislative requirement for EV charging provision, but several cities and local authorities have their own requirements.

The leading local policy regarding the inclusion of chargepoints in new developments is the London Plan, with other regional and local planning documents often taking their lead from it.

The London Plan

The London Plan acts as the overarching planning guidance for the 32 individual London Boroughs. Since 2011 the London Plan has provided a definition of “active” and “passive” provision of chargepoints in different development types.

  • Active” - “An actual socket connected to the electrical supply system that vehicle owners can plug their vehicle into”.
  • Passive” - “The network of cables and power supply necessary so that at a future date a socket can be added easily”.

The London Plan requires any developments or major refurbishments that require planning to provide the following.

Parking for

Percentage of bays with “active” chargepoint provision

Percentage of bays with “passive” chargepoint provision

Residential development

20%

20%

Retail development

10%

10%

Employment uses

20%

10%


This guidance is then interpreted into each Borough’s own planning regime.

Edinburgh Design Guide

Perhaps the next most established regulations on the provision of charging infrastructure is Edinburgh City Council’s “Edinburgh Design Guide” (2017), which calls for the following:

Parking for

Percentage of bays with “active” chargepoint provision

Percentage of bays with “passive” chargepoint provision

Individual house

0%

100%

Residential development with 10+ spaces

20%

0%

Non-residential development with 10+ spaces

20%

0%


Also note that the Edinburgh Design Guide requires rapid charging (50kW) provision for all non-residential developments with 10+ spaces. With each 50kW unit costing circa 30x the cheapest 7kW unit, this measure is controversial, particularly for smaller developments.

Remainder of the UK

While there is not a universal, or consistent approach to chargepoint provision, many local authorities have developed their own guidance which is often built on the London Plan model.

Tip: The approach of mandating proportions of active chargepoints can cause challenges with which bays should receive them, particularly on sites where bays would normally be allocated. For guidance we recommend you speak to our Built Environment team.

What EV charging requirements can we expect in the future?

Future National Policy

The government’s Road to Zero strategy expressed their intention that, in due course, a chargepoint is installed in every home with parking. They are currently consulting on what this would mean for the development industry and are considering their requirement. Options include mandating either active or passive chargepoints in each development, whilst appropriate proportions and the best holistic approach to the challenges are being investigated, with consultations are ongoing.

The London Plan

A new version of the London Plan is due to be adopted in 2019. Pod Point understands that there is likely to be an increase in the passive charging infrastructure requirement, potentially such that there is a requirement for 20% of bays to have active chargepoint provision and the remaining 80% passive chargepoint provision. While this is yet to be confirmed, Pod Point has seen at least one local planning authority suggesting that this will be a requirement.

Tip: On the current wording, satisfying at least passive provision of chargepoints for 100% of bays may require reinforcing the substation up stream of the development. This may be extremely expensive and cause other issues in the longer term. For advice we recommend contacting the Pod Point Built Environment team.

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