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UCL audit reveals that housing design has not improved since 2007

A nationwide audit into housing design, conducted by University College London (UCL) on behalf of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Place Alliance, recent found that housing design has barely improved since 2007, when the last audit was conducted.

Specifically, the UCL audit revealed that approximately 75 per cent of the 142 housing developments across England which were reviewed under said audit had designs which were classified as either “mediocre” or “poor”, signifying how very little has changed in the world of housing design since the last audit, which was conducted between 2004 and 2007.

Furthermore, the audit uncovered that SME housing construction businesses are, understandably, unable to compete with the larger conglomerate construction businesses in terms of the quantity of work that they are able to acquire, meaning that SMEs can therefore only compete on a quality level.

However, because the quality of housing design is so poor, this bar is set very low for SMEs, making one of the key recommendations of the audit to improve building and design standards for larger organisations so as to improve design quality among SMEs as well.

In response, the Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Brian Berry stated: “Today’s report shows the impacts of thirty years of market consolidation, which has squeezed out the small builder. SME house builders have to compete on quality rather than volume, so it is hardly surprising that a broken housing market dominated by a handful of major developers is failing to deliver what homeowners want and need.

“To get SME builders back into the housing market we need to tackle the barriers of land supply, access to finance and a simpler planning system. Greater diversity in our housing market will not only help deliver better quality homes, but happier people as recent FMB research shows that homeowners are twice as likely to be ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of their new build home if it is built by a small builder than one of the top 20 firms.”

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