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Housing design audit to assess large developments

Words: Laura Edgar
National housing audit / iStock-626187690

Built environment organisations have come together to support the UK’s first national housing design audit, which plans to examine large-scale housing developments.

To measure the standard of design and the quality and sustainability of environments, the Place Alliance (University College London) and Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have joined forces to support the first national housing design audit. They are supported by:

  • Home Builders Federation (HBF);
  • Urban Design Group;
  • Civic Voice;
  • Academy of Urbanism;
  • Design Council;
  • UK Green Building Council; and
  • Institute for Highways and Transportation.

The work is also supported by professional input from Arup, JTP, Spawforths, URBED and a network of specially trained volunteers across the country.

The Place Alliance and CPRE highlight that research has shown that high-quality design makes new residential developments more acceptable to local communities.

The audit aims to assess at least 100 large-scale developments across England to provide enough data for comparisons to be made between regions and different approaches to the delivery of new housing.

It will use broadly the same methodology as earlier housing design audits conducted between 2004 and 2007 on a regional basis by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) before it was disbanded in 2011. The intention is to see how the design of housing developments has changed over the past decade and to provide a baseline against which to measure progress on placemaking in new housing development, said the two organisations.

UCL’s professor Matthew Carmona, who is leading the research, said: “We know much about the numbers of houses we are delivering nationally, but almost nothing about their quality. This housing design audit represents an ambitious attempt to address that gap and provide a baseline from which to make more informed judgements in the future about the standard of housing design that we should be expecting, both nationally and locally.”

Paul Miner, who leads on strategic planning at the CPRE, added: “We need to build many more new homes but we should also expect future housing developments to meet high design standards, not just in terms of appearance but also in helping us to move towards a zero-carbon economy."

The audit is expected to be completed in the autumn and will feed into the work of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

Image credit | iStock