A Housing Design Audit
Findings and Recommendations
Based on a design audit of 142 housing developments across England, and correlations with data on market, contextual and design governance factors, a number of conclusions were drawn. These concern the type of housing that is being delivered, what is going right and wrong, and why there is such a variation in practice across the country.
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Based on the audits, the following findings were drawn
1. WHAT ARE WE DELIVERING?
A small improvement
There has been a small overall improvement in housing design quality nationally since the last audits that were conducted between 2004 and 2007.
But new housing design is overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’
Because the improvement is from a low base, today the design of new housing developments are still overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’ (three quarters of the audited projects).
Many schemes should have been refused
One in five of the audited schemes should have been refused planning permission outright. The design of many others should have been improved before relevant permissions were granted.
The potential exists for good design everywhere
The wide distribution of ‘good’ and ‘poor’ scores across the country shows that it is clearly possible to deliver high quality housing environments (and substandard ones) right across the country.
Very patchy practice
Regionally the picture is patchy. The most improved region was the West Midlands, with the South East and Greater London (the best performing region) also showing very significant improvements. If these three best performing regions are stripped out, then the small national gain largely disappears. The East Midlands and South West scored least well, and significantly lower than the English average.
Resident satisfaction contrasts with community dissatisfaction
Whilst new residents are generally happy with the environments around their new homes, this contrasts strongly with the views of local communities (as represented by their local councillors) who regret what they see as too much overdevelopment and a loss of local character. Both residents and communities see a negative impact from unduly car and roads dominated environments.