the drive to deliver more homes across the country has come a loud call for
those developments to be of a high standard of design in order to deliver high
quality, liveable and sustainable environments for residents. Research has
consistently shown that high quality design makes new residential developments
more acceptable to local communities.
measure this, the Place Alliance (UCL) and CPRE, with support
from Home Builders Federation, Urban Design Group, Civic Voice, Academy of
Urbanism, Design Council, UK Green Building Council, and Institute for Highways
and Transportation have joined forces on the first ever national housing design
audit. The work is also supported by professional input from JTP, Arup,
Spawforths and URBED and a network of specially trained volunteers across the
We are very delighted to be supporting this national housing design audit. New neighbourhoods should be designed to create communities and not just provide housing. The audit will help assess how well this is being done through providing walkable neighbourhoods with shops, schools, play areas and access to nature within walking distance new homes. It will identify how successful we have been at delivering high quality public realm and access to sustainable transport. By scoring the design of new neighbourhoods against set criteria we will be able to target areas for improvement and ultimately, help encourage development teams to improve the quality of places that are created in the future.
Clare San Martin, JTP
Housing design audits represent systematic approaches to assess the design quality of the external residential environment. The new audit will assess at least 100 large-scale developments across England and will provide enough data for comparisons to be made between regions and different approaches to the delivery of new housing. Using broadly the same methodology as earlier housing design audits conducted between 2004 and 2007 (see Background below), the intention is to look back and see how the design of housing developments has changed over the last decade. It will also provide a baseline against which to measure progress on place-making in new housing development going forward.
The audit will be completed in the autumn and will feed into the work of the Government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.
We know much about the numbers of houses we are delivering nationally, but almost nothing about their quality. This housing design audit represents an ambitious attempt to address that gap and provide a baseline from which to make more informed judgements in the future about the standard of housing design that we should be expecting, both nationally and locally.
UCL’s Professor Matthew Carmona, who is leading the research
'We are pleased to be supporting the first ever national housing design audit. We need to build many more new homes but we should also expect future housing developments to meet high design standards, not just in terms of appearance but also in helping us to move towards a zero-carbon economy. We are particularly delighted to see the strong cross-sector support that this important piece of work has received.
Paul Miner, who leads on strategic planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
The design quality of the
external residential environment will be measured against seventeen topics:
1. Community facilities –
Does the development provide (or is it close to) community facilities, such as
a school, parks, play areas, shops, pubs or cafés?
2. Housing types – Is there a mix of
housing types to meet varied local needs?
3. Public transport – Does the development
have easy access to public transport?
4. Environmental impact – Does the development
have a low environmental impact?
5. The locality – Is the design specific
to the scheme?
6. Existing and new landscape –
Does the scheme exploit existing landscape or topography and create a new
7. Character of the development –
Does the scheme feel like a place with a distinctive character?
8. Street legibility – Do the buildings and
layout make it easy to find your way around?
9. Street definition – Are streets defined by
a well-structured building layout?
10. Highway design – Does the building
layout take priority over the road, so that highways do not dominate?
11. Car parking – Is the car parking well
integrated and situated, so it supports the street scene?
12. Pedestrian friendly – Are the streets
pedestrian and cycle friendly?
13. Connectivity within and with the surroundings developments –
Does the street layout connect up internally and integrate with existing
streets, paths and surrounding development?
14. Safety and security – Are open spaces, play
areas and streets overlooked and do they feel safe?
15. Public, open and play spaces –
Is public, open and play spaces well designed and does it have suitable
management arrangements in place?
16. Architectural quality – Do the buildings
exhibit architectural quality?
17. Storage and bins – Are storage spaces well
designed and do they integrate well within the development?