After months of anticipation, the Chancellor (Philip Hammond) announced his Autumn Budget. The Budget included a number of expected announcements, such as the increase in the personal allowance, the rise in the national living wage, and of course the provision of funds to support the United Kingdom’s smooth departure from the European Union. It was the government’s announcement that it would deliver 300,000 new homes each year to tackle the UK wide housing crisis that created internal debate. Our response to the announcement follows here below:
We welcomed the Budget announcement by the Chancellor, in which he stated his commitment to build 300,000 new homes each year to tackle the current housing crisis – a near 40% rise on the total build for last year. This is positive news for the thousands of people across the nation struggling to find stable and secure housing, whether as first-time buyers or in affordable or rented homes. To harvest the benefits of this increase in housing supply, plans must also go hand in hand with inclusive, and sustainable housing design quality. Having a roof over our heads and a place to call home is critical but it also needs to support us in improving our health, wellbeing and prosperity.
With the ever-increasing demands of the population growth, the design of new developments must consider crucial aspects that turn housing developments into places people want to live and work.
Places should provide residents with:
- A place of safety
- A sense of belonging, and being connected to positive social networks
- Good transport links, which in turn provide connection to places of work, education & leisure
- An environment where they can maintain physical activity
- Contact with natural environment/nature
With over 15 years of experience supporting the Local and National Government to improve the quality of design in the built environment, we acknowledge the challenges facing this and previous governments in achieving ambitious targets on housing supply. There is also a significant challenge in convincing existing communities of the positive impact housing can have, from supporting existing services to enabling new ones, improving the quality of infrastructure and improving access to quality public space.
The positive response to this challenge should not usurp planning processes and design requirements – rather every attempt should be made to improve levels of engagement and contact between developers and the local community to ensure plans for development have the full support of local people and business at the earliest opportunity, preventing any delay during the process.
Working with Local Authorities and communities through the Neighbourhood Planning process we’ve seen first-hand the barriers to housing delivery. In urban areas increasing heights and densities raise concerns over their impact on services, the quality of the environment and critical infrastructure. Proposed new settlements in rural areas likewise generate heated debate about the need for housing and the quality of the places that are established. By addressing these concerns head-on and by giving people a voice in the future of their neighbourhoods, we can start to remove the barriers to development and work towards the ambitious targets set today by the Government.
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