CABE welcomes commitment to better, as well as more, new homes
23 July 2007
We will work with the government to ensure that the good intentions set out in the housing green paper result in better homes and neighbourhoods.
CABE has welcomed the prominence that the government has given to design quality in its new housing green paper - and is looking forward to working with the government to ensure that the paper's good intentions result in better homes and neighbourhoods.
The green paper, published by Communities and Local Government (CLG) on 23 July, proposes building on existing policy instruments to encourage both more and better homes - as the paper puts it, the government's aim is to 'eliminate poorly designed new housing'. CABE believes that the paper contains some very welcome mechanisms for achieving this, alongside a restatement of the design objectives of PPS3.
CABE chief executive Richard Simmons said: 'In publishing the green paper, the government has recognised that good design is not an optional extra but integral to the delivery of the step change in housing supply that is needed.'
As a key partner in delivering improved housing design quality, CABE will be helping to develop a quality assurance programme to fast track well-designed developments through the planning system, rewarding developers that prioritise design, and penalising those that don't
The green paper refers to the routine review of CABE's activities (to which all non-departmental public bodies are subject). CABE believes that the timing of this review, with a new government and new agenda, is excellent. As the green paper makes plain, CABE's work is critical to the success of the government's housing strategy, and we want to make sure that the way we organise ourselves is tuned as well as possible to the task that lies ahead.
CABE also welcomes the commitment to sustainable design, and particularly the recognition that achieving zero-carbon homes will require more than simply modifying existing housing types: it will require 'a fundamental re-appraisal of how we create places'. The ambitions on sustainable design are high, and the targets for zero-carbon homes are amongst the most testing in the world, but the devil is in the detail. As yet the mechanisms and milestones are ill defined - these will need to be clarified through the consultation on the paper.
CABE supports the restatement of the government commitment to introduce energy performance certificates on a phased basis from August 2007, and urges the government not to delay these further. Furthermore, we hope that during the course of the consultation a clear timetable can be set for when and how the code becomes mandatory for all developers.
But CABE believes that there are areas where the green paper could be stronger in ensuring that the good intentions are translated into better homes and neighbourhoods. During the consultation, CABE believes that two key issues will need to be addressed:
- The proposals on metrics within the paper await definition and lack ambition. The government should expect local authorities to use such metrics, not simply hope that they might. CABE would be keen to explore with the government how Building for Life can be developed in this way.
- Effective metrics are important incentives for improvement, but so are funding streams. CABE supports the creation of a new housing and planning delivery grant, which can both increase the capacity for and incentivise the delivery of housing growth, but CABE hopes that the its logic can be extended to include quality alongside speed and numbers.
The commitments to encouraging lifetime homes standards and inclusive design principles, and to supporting green space within new housing developments, are also to be welcomed.
The key is of course not just more green space but the quality of both parks and informal green spaces. And to achieve this, we need to plan for high quality environmental infrastructure and landscape from the start. Both CABE's inclusive environments group and CABE Space have a key role to play in delivering these objectives, and translating them from aspiration to reality.
Finally, we welcome the government's commitment to increasing the capacity within the system. Ensuring that this capacity is developed in the most effective way and at the right time will be critical to ensuring that the good intentions are translated into better places as well as more affordable homes.
Housing green paper and eco towns prospectus - summary
- Three million new homes by 2020, with two million built by 2016, based on three key principles:
- More and quicker homes
- More affordable homes
- Greener, better-designed homes
- Pulls together assorted housing policies and initiatives discussed over the last few months, with a strong commitment to good design.
Green paper - key points
- Revised housing targets:
- 240,000 new homes a year by 2016.
- 2 million new homes by 2016, and 3 million by 2020.
- 5 new eco-towns of around 5-20,000 people.
- 180,000 new affordable homes over the next three years. This includes 45,000 new social homes a year (50 per cent increase).
- From 2010-11, 70,000 affordable houses a year (more than double 2004's total) and a goal of 50,000 social homes a year.
- Funding: £8 billion for affordable housing from 2008-2011, a £3 billion increase.
- Additional £300 million for transport infrastructure to support new homes.
- New growth points announced, including areas in the North of England for the first time.
- New housing and planning delivery grant will direct extra resources to councils that build the most homes. Those that do not identify suitable sites suitable for development will be penalised.
- Commitment to pilot a 'quality assurance programme', with local authorities and developers, aimed at speeding up the development process for those who meet a design quality benchmark.
Design quality (chapter 6)
- Strong backing to improving design quality. Achieving zero carbon homes 'will require a fundamental re-appraisal of how we create places'
- The aim is to 'eliminate poor development and ensure that good and very good development is no longer the exception but the norm'
- A commitment to working with local authorities to develop possible metrics for measuring design quality, with a briefing on Building for Life.
- A specific push for more green spaces.
- Commitment to making sure new development takes into account the needs of all members of society.
Sustainability (chapter 7)
- Reiterates key principles and targets from Building a greener future, PPS1 supplement on climate change and the Code for sustainable homes. Consultation to be launched on how the code can be made mandatory.
- Announcement of a new programme of work across government: the innovation platform on low-impact buildings, led by the Technology Strategy Board. This will tackle cost effective solutions to building new zero-carbon homes and upgrading the existing stock. Existing homes will account for two-thirds of housing stock in 2050.
- Reference to the DEFRA/CLG position statement on water efficiency in new buildings, and a commitment to reviewing the efficiency of water supply fittings.
- A recognition that robust planning policy needs to incorporate latest climate change predictions, to enable risk management without preventing necessary development for social and economic reasons / benefits.
- Later in 2007 CLG will:
- Publish its planning and climate change planning policy statement.
- Make stamp duty land tax relief available on the first sale of new zero carbon homes from 1 October 2007.
- Introduce energy performance certificates on a phased basis from August 2007.
- Announce developers for the first carbon challenge sites by end-2007.
- Publish the practice guidance companion to PPS25 ('Development and flood risk').
- Aim to publish initial findings from the government's review of the lessons learned from the 2007 floods.
Eco-towns prospectus - key points
- Small new towns of at least 5,000-20,000 homes, intended to be zero-carbon developments, created using the best new design and architecture, and which offer:
- Separate and distinct identity, with good links to surrounding towns and cities
- Zero-carbon development, and exemplary in at least one area of environment technology
- Good range of facilities within the town including a secondary school, shopping, business space and leisure
- Between 30 and 50 per cent affordable housing with a good mix of tenures and size of homes in mixed communities
- A delivery organisation to manage the town and its development and provide support for people, businesses and community services.
- CABE to run an eco-towns design review panel. Also contains references to Building for Life and CABE's growth area guidance.
Complete list of information published
- Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable - housing green paper. Consultation period 23 July 2007 to 15 October 2007.
- The future of the code for sustainable homes - making a rating mandatory Consultation period 23 July 2007 to 23 October 2007.
- Eco-towns prospectus
- Strategic housing land availability assessment: practice guidance: explains how local authorities and their partners must carry out an assessment of land availability for housing, over a 15-year period, in their areas as outlined in planning policy statement 3: Housing.
- Implementing planning performance agreements - preliminary advice that accompanies the department's consultation on planning performance agreements (PPAs): a new way to manage large-scale planning applications. (PPAs formed part of the suite of planning white paper consultations)
Past consultation responses
- Planning policy statement: planning and climate change: analysis of responses
- Building regulations: energy efficiency requirements for new dwellings: forward look at 2010 and 2013
- Building a greener future: policy statement
- Water efficiency in new buildings: a joint DEFRA and CLG policy statement
The government also announced this financial year's planning delivery grant allocations and released a regulatory impact assessment (RIA) for the green paper and for Building a greener future.