Headlines: September 19th, 2007

The Commission for the Built Environment is today calling on the Government to make Building for Life the national standard against which design quality is measured in the planning system. At the same time it is warning that more than 7 million people will not get the new homes they need unless there is a marked increase in the quality of new housing.

CABE says that an emphasis on quality is the best way to counter local objections to new housing developments. Richard Simmons, its chief executive, said, “The public assume that new build homes will be a scar on their neighbourhood, rather than an asset to it. Putting quality first offers the best chance of reducing the local and regional objections that often delay the planning process and slow down the release of land. We need three million homes, not least to house the nurses and teachers who will serve these new communities. But it’s quality that will help unlock the numbers.”

Today’s warning comes as CABE announces the Building for Life standard winners, schemes which it believes show there is capacity and motivation to deliver well-designed homes, in a range of styles and a for a variety of tenures. The awards have gone to developments ranging from urban regeneration schemes in London to affordable homes in deprived areas in the West Midlands and Yorkshire .

CABE says the Government’s housing green paper and Planning Policy Statement 3 show a commitment to good design but it wants the Building for Life standard – a set of 20 criteria – to be embedded in the planning system and says some local councils, English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation already give approval only to housing developments that meet the standard. CABE believes that making it part of the planning system will ensure it is applied to all planning applications for new homes.