Headlines: November 17th, 2010

The Royal Institute of British Architects supports the Government’s proposals on the New Homes Bonus, but warned that councils should not receive the Bonus for sub-standard homes. It calls for the improvement in the quality as well as quantity of homes being delivered.

The Government’s proposals will provide almost £1billion of financial incentives to councils that build new homes, through a match-funded council tax payment for each new home being built in their area. Councils will also benefit from a higher level of funding for encouraging new affordable homes to be built in the local area, with council tax matched and then supplemented by £350 per home each year for six years.

The Institute believes that it is not simply that insufficient homes are being built, but neither are the right type of homes being delivered. This situation should not be continued by supporting councils that fail to deliver high quality housing.

Currently too many badly designed housing schemes are being given planning permission. Councils need both the support and direction from Government to ensure that this doesn’t continue to happen. Guidance on design, sustainability and space for new homes should be set out within Local Plans and the Bonus should only be paid for homes which meet these standards.

The Institute has called on the Government to prevent another decade of failure with another generation of poor quality, inappropriate and unsustainable homes. Housing is about people, not just bricks and mortar, and homes should be built that are fit for purpose today and will be capable of adapting to long-term needs. The market is currently failing to deliver this, but Government, both locally and nationally, has a major role to play in bringing about change.