Headlines: December 12th, 2007

Planning authorities and housebuilders need to take more responsibility for creating a sense of place in new developments, according to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, the government’s design watchdog. It is also calling for a public debate on the factors that make places good to live in.

A study commissioned by CABE and published today shows that half of new homeowners miss a sense of community spirit. The report, ‘A sense of place’, is based on an Ipsos MORI survey conducted in 33 new housing developments. It found that while the overwhelming majority of people are satisfied with their own homes a substantial proportion of them are unhappy with the developments on which they live, especially after getting to know them better.

The survey points to what it calls a ‘quality blindspot within new housing developments’. The designer, Wayne Hemingway, who chairs the national Building for Life initiative, said “Every new development should have the elements that help to foster a sense of community and belonging, but instead people find themselves living in anonymous estates without all the elements that make life easy. We need to start a public debate about what makes a great place to live.”

CABE’s Chief Executive, Richard Simmons, said that builders and planners needed to take more responsibility for creating a sense of place. “Homes in poorly designed developments might sell but this is no guarantee that the development will succeed in the long term for the community as a whole. The national policy framework is now in place. It’s up to housebuilders and planners to ensure consumers have the chance to live in places that work well and look good,” he said.

The Commission wants the Government to make the 20 Building for Life criteria a national standard against which design quality is measured in the planning system. It is also giving people the chance to nominate a well-designed new development for the 2008 Building for Life awards as well as giving details of the worst examples.