Speaking at the Government’s first Design Quality Conference, Housing Minister Dominic Raab called for better designed homes as fundamental for building the houses we need to alleviate the housing crisis.
He said “it has become clear that it is not good enough just to build more homes; we need to build better homes. Homes that embody the high standards of quality and design, and that are at the heart of strong communities.”
During his speech, Raab underlined the principle that high-quality design, which fits into the local community, was key for alleviating the housing market.
The Government has committed to bringing on 300,000 by the middle of the next decade, and Raab feels that better design will help make these homes more palatable locally, citing London’s Kidbrooke Village and Smiths Dock in North Shields.
Interestingly, Smiths Dock features custom build prominently, as the area is being redeveloped by a partnership of Places for People and Urban Splash, working with North Tyneside Council. The 815-home site includes 24 terraced Town Houses, which are custom homes created offsite by Urban Splash. Places for People also recently bought Custom Build developer ZeroC.
“For everyone in this country, the way our homes look and how they make us feel is central to our quality of life. This is essential for the vibrant and resilient communities we want to build.”
“Whenever I discuss the role of design in home building, I can’t help feeling that the objective, the aim of building homes on the scale we need in this this country – and at the same time making them wonderful, vibrant places to live – should be seen as mutually reinforcing goals… not competing priorities.”
Raab’s comments come after several years’ worth of reports that point to issues with build quality. For example, consumers are twice as likely to be satisfied with the quality of SME-built homes, such as Custom and Self Builds.
He also went on to stress the importance of community engagement for guiding local development. Raab cited Tresham Garden Village where workshops were run to engage local people, which he described as “a really important example of where the community were involved from the outset.”
Currently under review following these meetings, the Master Plan for Tresham includes the potential for 20% Custom and Self Build plots in the mix of 1,500 homes, another example of how creating choice with Custom Build is emerging as best practice.
In addition, SMEs and Modern Methods of Construction also came under praise for driving innovation in design and delivery – both areas central to the Custom and Self-Build homes sector.
The elements that Raab praises are all reflected by Custom Build, from having good quality design at its heart to engaging the local community by giving them choice.
Evidence indicates that communities find the idea of affordable Custom homes far more palatable than spec-built homes for local development. And if the Right to Build registers include a local test, these can be used to ensure the developments prioritise local demand.