Headlines: February 2nd, 2005

A new report – ‘Design Coding: Testing its use in England’ – will be launched later today. It has been produced by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment in partnership with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and English Partnerships and sets out the initial findings of a study of the effectiveness of coding in delivering better quality housing developments more efficiently across England.The ODPM asked CABE and English Partnerships to undertake a two-year research programme to test design coding. The interim findings suggest time spent preparing a code does bring dividends in terms of fast tracking a proposal through the planning process, improving design quality and achieving ‘buy-in’ to large-scale housing developments.

Case studies cited in the report show that a development produced with design codes is of notably higher quality. One example is Newhall in Harlow, where the code included strict requirements for design. The scheme has been awarded a Building for Life Gold Standard and a RIBA housing award. Draft design codes for the pilot schemes in Ashford, Cirencester, Hastings, Newcastle and Swindon are underway and significant progress has been made in Aldershot and Rotherham.

The research also shows how the use of codes can bring the professionals involved in planning, design, and highways together with landowners and developers to create better plans more quickly.

Speaking in Manchester, where the report will be published today at the Sustainable Communities Summit, CABE’s chief executive, Richard Simmons, said the challenge over the next few years was to deliver new housing of the quantity and quality required. The coding research and pilot projects showed promise in helping to tackle mediocre new housing. “What is becoming apparent is that a code will only be as good as the thought that has been put into it and the expertise of those who implement it,” he added.