The target has been set by Chancellor Phillip Hammond to see 300,00 new homes built per year by the mid-2020s. However, a recent report by Policy Exchange discusses the importance of the design, style and quality of these new homes. The report intends to start a debate about these factors, and how the needs of those who will be living in these homes should also be met.
In the executive summary of the report Building More, Building Beautiful, it is stated: “People don’t want excitement or drama from the design of their home. They want a sense of community, comfort and togetherness.
“The phrase ‘fittingness’ has been used in previous research and perfectly sums up the desires of most people. They don’t want identikit soulless developments or alienating expansive glass towers. They want homes that fit in with those already there. They want a sense of belonging and happiness to radiate from their properties. And they want to feel proud of their home.”
The report shows results from a public polling that there is a keenness for new builds to fit in with the style of the existing built environment. This poll was answered by 5,013 respondents from London and the South East, with 74% saying that new homes should fit in with their surroundings.
The poll also revealed that there is a desire for homes to be private, spacious and with design qualities such as feature windows and exposed brick facades.
However, it should be considered whether a focus on the design might cause an increase in prices for such housing. A planner in one of the focus groups gathered for the poll commented: “The problem with pushing for design, and if that pushes the cost up, is the viability of the scheme affects whether or not you get affordable housing, which is a massive need… there comes a point, the land values are so high that you’re in a trade-off situation.
“Do we want to really push on design? Actually you’ll find that local people, and local councils generally do want to push on design, but there’s a cost to that. You might not get health and education contributions, you really struggle to get affordable housing, so actually, there’s a limited pot that developers are able to commit.”
Is it time to reconsider the design of new homes? Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire believes this is so. He contributed the foreword to the report, in which he underlines our current government’s commitment to meeting the country’s “pressing housing need”.
He goes on to say that more can be done about the major concerns of design, style and quality of new homes. He recognises that it is a particular need in London.
The full report by the Policy Exchange can be viewed here.