Local authorities and Building for Life
Local authorities can use Building for Life to help improve the quality of new homes and neighbourhoods in their area.
There are three stages of the planning process when Building for Life can be used by local authorities:
- before a planning committee decision
- once a new housing development is complete
- by incorporating Building for Life throughout local planning policy.
Local authorities are also currently required to use Building for Life to assess all new housing developments as part of their annual monitoring report to Communities and Local Government (CLG).
Using Building for Life before a planning decision
Building for Life assessments are an excellent way to assess proposed residential developments before they reach the planning committee:
- informal assessments can act as the basis of constructive pre-application negotiations with developers and design teams about the quality of new development you expect.
- formal assessments can help with questions about design quality and sustainability issues at the development control stage. A formal assessment will compare the features of an application against planning policy as well as supplying a body of evidence to support your recommendations.
For example, this extract from a planning committee report shows how North West Leicestershire District Council use Building for Life throughout their planning process:
The proposed scheme has been the subject of extensive discussions with the District Council’s urban designer, both prior to, and since, the application’s submission. The scheme has been amended significantly in response to design concerns, and previously low Building for Life ratings. The amended scheme has been re-assessed in terms of Building for Life by the urban designer, who now concludes that the assessment demonstrates that the scheme meets the minimum 14 out of 20 required to be considered of a “good” standard as defined and expected by Planning Policy Statements 1 and 3, Saved Local Plan Policy and Building for Life as a quality measure. He therefore raises no objection to the amended scheme subject to the imposition of conditions.
Using Building for Life for completed developments
Building for Life assessments can be used to evaluate completed housing developments. They are a useful way to develop an overview of the quality of new housing being developed in an area.
For example, Building for Life assessments were used as the basis of CABE’s national audit of new housing.
Local authorities are currently required to use Building for Life assessments to report on the quality of new housing as part of their annual monitoring report. This process may involve planning officers working alongside housing and monitoring colleagues.
Using Building for Life throughout local planning policy
Building for Life is a useful way to make the design commitments contained in Planning Policy Statement 1 (PPS1) and Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) more specific to your area.
You can include local issues which relate to the 20 criteria in your core strategy or supplementary planning guidance, as long as you reference Building for Life in a way that is useful for the local planners, designers and developers.
For example, the sustainable design supplementary planning document for North Northamptonshire shows how you can make Building for Life work in a local context.