News: Raising the bar on home design standards

Communities and local government secretary Ruth Kelly has called on developers and local authorities to give greater emphasis to good design.

In a keynote speech at the Housing Design Awards, which showcase the very best examples of new homes across the country, she said that design was fundamental to creating strong and cohesive communities.

Ruth Kelly said, "Quality design is fundamental to creating strong, cohesive communities in which people feel comfortable and proud to live. As these great examples show, good design is the key to getting the right housing where it is needed; it means attractive places with a mixture of size and tenure, high environmental standards and green spaces too."

Ruth Kelly also announced the winning bid for the final site in the Government's successful Design for Manufacture competition in Merton. The bid by the SixtyK Consortium will be an exemplar in sustainable development with over 70% less carbon emissions compared with 2002 standards including renewable technology, a combined heat and power facility and rainwater collection and recycling.

The government is urging all local authorities to use the lessons from the competition to deliver well designed homes for around £60,000 in their areas. The next phase of the competition is being developed to set further challenges to build eco-communities in a way that makes sustainable development more affordable.

New national statistics also published today show that the proportion of new homes built on brownfield land has reached a new record high of 74% up from 56% in 1997 and well above government's 60% target.

The average density of new developments is at 41 dwellings per hectare (dph) up from 25 dph in 1997. Planning policy prioritises brownfield development to protect green spaces and prevent urban sprawl.

From next month all but very minor planning applications will require a statement of design and access principles. The statements will raise the profile of design and access issues and strengthen the powers local authorities have to insist on better design.

Many local authorities are also making use of design codes which are locally agreed rules that set out specific three-dimensional design requirements to guide the physical development of a site or place. Research shows that Design Coding has increased the quality of new developments and places and can lead to a more efficient and transparent development process.

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