Policy D6: Design of New and Renovated Housing to the Highest Standards
D6.1: All new and renovated housing must be of high quality design.
D6.2: Houses and housing developments should meet the Building for Life Criteria, or other national standard of equivalent or higher level.
4.166 The NPPF (Section 7) sees good design as a key aspect of sustainable development, and states that planning policies should aim to ensure that the design of developments and of buildings will add to the overall quality of the area, establish a strong sense of place, respond to local character and history, create safe and accessible environments, and be visually attractive.
4.167 It was commented on in the results of the survey of local opinion that the City has been blighted by poor building design from the 1960s and 1970s (though some of this is being addressed by new developments in progress to replace such buildings). There are also some examples of modern architecture that complement the historic character of the City such as the Calman Learning Centre on South Road and the café/meeting room in Wharton Park. Newer building developments in the outer areas of the City have tended to be of uninspiring, standard-product semi-detached and detached houses. But options for better design of new housing exist.
4.168 The RIBA (2009) discussion paper noted that “the design quality of many developments built before the credit crunch was inadequate, with only 18% of schemes rated as ‘good’ or ‘very good’” and that “many buyers of new homes have concerns over a lack of space and an inconvenient layout.” (p.1) It concluded that “there is a huge potential for the market for new homes to be expanded by placing more emphasis on design quality and providing a more diverse product.” (p.1) Concerns about lack of space were reiterated in RIBA (2011): consumers felt that new houses failed to provide adequate inner and outer space. Over 90% of these houses did not meet minimum size standards set by the ‘Nationally Described Space Standard’ (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2015) and were smaller than new houses in Western Europe. Ipso MORI and RIBA (2012) surveyed the housing needs and expectations of consumers and the key findings were (p.4-5):
- Large windows for natural light, large rooms and high ceilings;
- Large main living area for eating and socialising;
- Layouts which take into account technology used within the home;
- Space for private time away from other members of the household;
- Private space outside, particularly for families, or access to green public space in urban locations;
- Long-term and short-term storage for functional items, and for personal possessions;
- Dedicated space for domestic utility tasks, such as, washing, drying and ironing clothes, as well as for storing vacuum cleaners, rubbish bins and recycling;
- Options for different layouts, with flexibility.
4.169 Access to high speed Internet and mobile access in the home for both leisure and home working is crucial. The provision of this technology infrastructure needs to keep pace with new technological developments.
4.170 The Building for Life criteria (Birkbeck and Kruczkowski, 2015) are a set of quality tests agreed nationally by The Design Council and the Housebuilders’ Federation to ensure that the design of new homes and their neighbourhood are as attractive, functional and sustainable as possible. There are 20 tests or criteria, and house-building schemes that achieve a score of at least 14/20 meet the Building for Life standard.
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