According to new research, the only way to solve the UK housing crisis will be if developers of new homes focus more on design and style in order to gain the support of already established communities.
The demand for traditional house designs are strongest among lower socio-economic groups. The overall: ‘Not in my backyard’ attitude that is seen in existing communities can be overcome if housing plans are better catered to people’s desire’s ˗ reflecting traditional building designs ˗ for example, Victorian terraces and Georgian blocks.
According to an independent house building review by Sir Oliver Letwin, if developers increased the choices available, such as size, design and tenure of new homes, this would speed up the building and selling rates of new homes without affecting the local market.
People tend to be generally positive about the building of new homes, even if they are being built in their neighbourhood. It’s been recorded that less than 3 in 10 people from the London area and the South East believe that there are too many new builds in their area.
New Build Homes:
There is a strong sense that not enough new homes are currently being built. No more than 1 in 10 people who were asked, felt that the issues with the new homes that are being built were to do with poor design, style and a lack of consideration for modern living requirements. In the south-east, over 40% feel that the local community should have a say over how communities and new homes are developed.
Unfortunately, as it stands less than 5% feel that the community is being consulted, whilst almost 40% feel that developers have the majority of a say, and only 11% believe that they should.
With 56% of people believing that new homes are being built as cheaply as possible to maximise profits for the developers, almost 80% stated that cost is almost always used as an excuse for badly designed, characterless, new modern homes.
Using the same survey, 63% of people feel that new houses can be built with style, adequate living requirements and good design without it costing developers more.
85% of people across all socioeconomic backgrounds have said that they believe new builds should be identical to the homes already in the area or at least fit in with their more traditional surroundings. Lower socioeconomic groups have proven to be more likely to agree that new builds shouldn’t be too adventurous, seek to shock or be too different. They were also more likely to agree that developers should build beautiful, comfortable homes.
68% of individuals questioned felt that a well-designed neighbourhood was likely to decrease crime rates and the majority of people, 84%, agreed that the better the quality of the homes and public spaces, the better community life would be. At a vast majority, 65% think that traditionally designed homes help bring about positive community spirit and approximately 75% of people think that the more traditional house designs improve quality of life.
The size of the developments also matter, 70% of people support low rise traditional homes, and 79% support the development of garden cities. When it comes to medium rise developments, these were supported by only 44% of individuals.
In order for all parties to feel heard, the report suggests that every local planning authority should create a style guide which should be incorporated in the definition of sustainable development. By consulting with local residents and listening to local voices this should help residents feel involved in the process.
The report states: “Planning should always seek to secure high-quality design and a good standard of amenity for all existing and future occupants of land and buildings, reflecting local public preference on issues of building design and style.”
The report also suggests that planning permission for developments that reflect design and style according to the style guide agreed with locals should be accelerated. Developments where the local community have been consulted and the creation of a ‘Special Areas of Residential Character’ will give locals confidence that the new builds will be in keeping with an agreed upon look and style.
Under revisions of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Secretary of State for Housing, James Brokenshire, said in a foreword to the report that communities will get more of a say on the type of homes being built in their neighbourhoods.
James Brokenshire says in the report: “We want to see local communities intimately engaged in helping to shape the future of the development in their area, feeding in their views on the design and style of new developments and helping local authorities create style guides and codes which developers can use to meet the needs of communities.”
He continues: “For London, this is a particular need. With land values high and the requirement for innovative use of space and higher densities, the need to build homes which are sympathetic to their surroundings and that add, not detract, to the sense of place which an area already has is paramount.”
Concluding, Mr Brokenshaw states “We don’t just want to build estates, we want to create communities. We want to build, through new development, on the strength and quality of Britain’s towns and cities. New homes shouldn’t be seen as a burden on communities but rather as strengthening communities.”