17 ways to design better homes and developments

Since the financial crisis of 2008 there has been a focus on building more new homes, with the Government setting an ambitious annual target of 300,000 new homes to tackle the housing crisis. Recently there has been a subtle change in tone from a number of voices in the sector, shifting the emphasis from quantity to quality.

  • The Government has published a National Design Guide, forming part of a revised suite of planning practice guidance currently being issued by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to support the National Planning Policy Framework.
  • The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, advising government on how to increase high-quality design for new build homes and neighbourhoods, has published its final report, “Living with Beauty”, making 45 policy propositions and more than 130 recommendations.
  • A new report for Place Alliance claimed that nearly three quarters of 142 developments surveyed should not have been given planning permission because of issues with housing development design.

With an overwhelming amount of information to absorb, how can architects, designers and developers make greater considerations for design when building new homes and developments?

We have cut through the information overload to provide a handy, 17-point infographic to give you a head start.

Click the image below to download the infographic.

17 steps to better designed developments

Key highlights of the Living with Beauty report

The main points from the commission’s 190-page Living with Beauty report include:

  • Speeding up the planning process for buildings and developments where a greater consideration of design is demonstrated
  • Planting millions of roadside trees over the next five years
  • Increasing democracy and involving communities in local plans and planning applications, including using digital technology such as virtual reality and 3D modelling
  • Charging zero or 5% VAT on renovation work to encourage this approach over demolition

Key highlights from the National Housing Audit

The report found that while there has been a small improvement in housing design quality since the last audits were carried out between 2004 and 2007, there is plenty of scope for improvement:

  • A wide distribution of “good” and “poor” scores across the country shows that there is scope to create high quality housing developments wherever they are
  • Practice is patchy – the West Midlands was the most improved region, while the East Midlands and the South West were below average
  • Resident satisfaction contrasts with community satisfaction – so while residents are broadly positive about their new homes, the neighbourhoods generally come in for more criticism
  • On the plus side, design for safety and security and the variety of house types has improved since the last audit

Click here to download the infographic.

Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty technical manual.

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