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Government calls for innovation in new homes

Ministers have called on the construction industry to embrace the latest innovations in building techniques, in order to make sure the country will benefit from the good quality homes it needs.

It is a directive of this Government to fix the broken housing market and address the housing crisis by ensuring 300,000 new homes are built in England by the mid-2020s. These homes need to be of good quality and design, and embrace the latest innovations to ensure the homes are valuable into the future.

The housing white paper published in February 2017 set out the government’s ambition to give communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing, and to drive up the quality and character of new development, building on the success of neighbourhood planning. It is crucial to ensure local support for the new communities, and recent research says that seven out of ten people would support new residential development if buildings are well-designed and in keeping with their local area.

To this end, the Government has hosted an industry summit to promote government and industry collaboration and innovation. Industry leaders, including local authority planners, developers and design professionals, attending the Design Quality Conference shared their expertise to ensure how homes look becomes just as important as the number delivered.

Ministers will focus on how developers can use better quality design in order to win over both communities and new generations of first-time buyers, who expect the highest quality homes before parting with their hard-earned deposits.

The event builds on previous government action to ensure new homes are built using quality materials and design methods, as set out in the recently published draft National Planning Policy Framework.

The document, which is currently out to consultation, outlines requirements for design guides and codes to feature prominently in new Local Plans, significant consideration to be given to existing local character as well as setting out the density of developments that meet the needs and expectations of the community.

The conference also saw speakers from the Royal Institute of British Architects, Stephen Lawrence Trust, The Princes Foundation, Historic England and Homes England, as well as other experts with experience in delivering excellent build quality for new and existing communities.

Action to boost innovative approaches for well-designed new homes include:

  • £1Bn investment through the Home Building Fund to develop new, modern approaches to design and construction. To date, eight projects across 11 local authorities, backed by government funding, will use modern methods of construction such as modular homes to build good quality homes, using the latest techniques, whilst helping to speed up housing delivery.
  • Learning from other countries like Australia, Norway and Sweden where good design is embedded in decision making. For example, based on an Australian model, the government will urge councils to set their own design quality standards, giving communities the ability to better reflect their own unique character in local planning policy.
  • Embracing new technologies: For example using Virtual Reality (VR) technology to win the confidence of communities before a single brick is laid. By visualising proposed new housing from the neighbour or homebuyer’s perspective, communities will be able to see how development can visually contribute to the area from an early stage, even before planning permission has been granted.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid, said: “Our homes are the making of all of us, which is why today’s event on raising the bar on the quality of new homes is so important.

“This government is determined to make sure that high quality design is the norm rather than the exception.”

While Housing Minister Dominic Raab, commented: “We are putting high-quality design on the map as never before when it comes to building better homes and stronger communities.

“Today’s conference marks an important milestone in that journey.”

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