Housing Strategy: Well Designed Homes

by Mark Johnston

The country needs to build more homes, so that everyone can live in a decent and affordable home that meets their needs. The government therefore has now reviewed and revitalised the whole housing system.

Since the credit crunch arrived in 2007 it has been very difficult to evaluate house building as essentially developers have been hamstrung by the property slump and have shelved new developments.

The National Housing and Planning Advice Unit (NHPAU) have stated that by 2016 the country will need at least 270,000 new homes a year, rather than the government’s target of 204,000.

The government is launching a new £400 million ‘get Britain building’ investment fund, which will support building firms in need of development finance.

Nick Jopling, executive property director of residential landlord Grainger, said “the £400 million announcement to boost housing supply is a welcome shot in the arm fro the housing sector and the UK economy as a whole”.

Although this funding is not the complete answer to the housing crisis, it will go some way to easing the chronic shortage of housing facing this country.

As part of the housing strategy the government are also funding the design council to support communities in shaping development in local areas and improving the energy efficiency of both new and existing homes.

The government is to return decision making powers on housing and planning back to local communities, and in its drive for localism it will hopefully allow them to protect the character of their neighbourhoods.

Part of this strategy will make sure that homes meet the standards necessary to support commitments to cut carbon emissions and also make sure that homes are of high quality, sustainable and above all well designed.

Building new homes to solve the housing crisis is not just about numbers, it is also about quality.

The national planning policy framework will be used to promote imaginative, locally distinctive, well designed new homes and neighbourhoods.

A YouGov poll recently revealed what people look for in their new home which include: outside space, decent sized rooms and located close to local amenities. It also suggested that most people that took part in the poll were not getting this.

Tastes and attitudes will vary but there are some key principles that many communities are more likely to welcome than the ‘identikit’ estates that have been widely criticised by the housing minister, Grant Shapps. Therefore it seems more needs to be done to make sure that high quality housing design is achieved in the UK.

However, in some areas architects have already been working closely with communities to help design homes and neighbourhoods where people ‘really’ want to live.

Harry Rich, Royal institute of British Architects (RIBA) chief executive said “we have been pressing hard for more homes to be built in the UK and for these to be of high design quality. I am delighted that the government has listened and has given such prominence to design quality and the role of architects in driving good design within their communities and in delivering housing fit for the 21st century”

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