Press archive 2020
When designing neighbourhoods, the aspiration should be for everyone to live within a five-minute walk of ‘significant’ green space or a park and ‘never be more than 10 minutes’ from basic facilities.
Lockdown provided a unique opportunity to stress-test our homes and their immediate environments, and to gauge whether or not they have supported our everyday needs. Exploring this was the purpose of the Home Comforts survey, conducted by the Place Alliance, a not-for-profit initiative at UCL. The survey was completed by 2,500 households across the UK during the early summer of 2020.
A key finding from this research was that the least comfortable dwellings, least supportive neighbourhoods for everyday needs, and weakest sense of community correlated directly with the age of housing.
Small size and lack of outdoor space made residents less happy with new properties, study by UCL finds
Spending lockdown in a new-build home and neighbourhood has been more difficult than in houses built before 1919, according to a study of 2,500 homeowners.
This video is part of UN-Habitat’s Global Urban Lecture series. Find all seasons and full packages at https://unhabitat.org/knowledge/globa…
The quality of places can be measured by the value they return to communities, in health, social, economic and environmental terms. Research evidence globally tells us that this ‘place value’ is shaped by how places are designed and that well designed places are fundamentally good for us.
The government should set up a dedicated Design Quality Unit for England to build on the work of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission (BBBBC).
This is the conclusion of a consortium of organisations comprising the Academy of Urbanism, Civic Voice, CPRE, Design Council, Place Alliance, Trees & Design Action Group, UCL and Urban Design Group.
“Now is the time to establish a design quality unit for England”, argues David Rudlin, former Chair of The Academy of Urbanism and Director at URBED)
We will be accused of reinventing Cabe and some might think that’s no bad thing. However the organisation we are talking about is much smaller and more sharply focused on the issues we need to address to achieve design quality. It also wouldn’t include design review which is being done effectively at the local level but would instead be based on a hub and spokes model linking diverse organisations already working in this space across the country.
England needs a body dedicated to fighting for design quality in the built environment if it is to reverse decades of systemic failure, ministers were urged today.
A design quality unit must be established if the government is to succeed in its stated ambition to deliver good urban development across England, it was warned by a coalition of design organisations. The groups said a design quality unit was vital if the momentum created by the government-appointed Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission (BBBBC) was not to be lost.
Back in February, in a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, a coalition of organisations – The Academy of Urbanism, Civic Voice, CPRE, Design Council, Place Alliance, Trees & Design Action Group and Urban Design Group – called for the setting up of a new Design Quality Unit for England. The call follows the report of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission and the publication of A Housing Design Audit for England.
The period since our letter has seen the country locked-down as part of the global effort to slow the spread of Coronavirus. Whilst these are exceptional times, a new pamphlet from the same consortium argues that we need to be thinking about the future, and with that in mind it is Time to get serious about design.
Following from the publication A Housing Design Audit for England and the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission report Living with Beauty, Place Alliance coordinated a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, to argue the case for A Design Quality Unit for England. The text of the letter can be found here.
Get behind the call by forwarding the letter to your own MP, or re-tweeting the blog.
Philip Box, policy and project coordinator at UKGBC, commenting at the launch of the report, said:
“This report notes some good examples of industry leaders going beyond the minimum, on energy efficiency, low carbon energy and biodiversity. However, it shows overwhelmingly that business as usual is not currently good enough to address the challenges we face. Our current minimum standards are inadequate, and we need to be more ambitious if we are to meet our legal decarbonisation targets.”
The Housing Design Audit report concludes that some house builders – especially the larger ones – are simply choosing not to build better-quality housing in England.
And even worse, the report found some evidence that some were using the planning appeals process to force through schemes with the lowest design quality.
It is disappointing that this housing audit only happened at all because the three co-authors were able to assemble partners to work on a voluntary basis (as detailed on page 18 of the report), rather than it being core funded by England’s dedicated housing agency.
The fact that they have produced such a robust, fact-filled, easy-to-read report make it all the more commendable. Read more →
Inspired by the late philosopher Roger Scruton, the government talks about beauty, but promotes ugly development. If they’re serious about good design, they need a theory that’s not skin-deep. The Bartlett School of Planning has meanwhile reported that most new housing is “just not meeting the basic requirements for civilised living”. New developments, it says, lack amenities such as green space, playgrounds and access to shops. Read more →
An audit carried out by University College London of over 140 housing developments built since 2007 found 75% should not have gone ahead because of their “mediocre” or “poor” design. Architect Matthew Carmona’s team frequently found schemes “dominated by large areas of tarmac for parking and roads that weren’t very easy for people to walk around”. Read more →
A new report damns the design of new housing developments in England as overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’, with less-affluent communities the worst affected, according to a national audit.
The study has already prompted the LGA to press for Right to Buy reform in the upcoming budget and a revocation of the permitted development right.
“It’s really a national tragedy,” said the report’s author Matthew Carmona, a professor at UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning.
“The pressure to build is in a sense absolutely right, we need more homes, but we need more homes of a good quality that people can thrive in and communities can grow in,” he said.
Report finds ‘unethical’ housebuilders are designing just 26% of homes well
“Greedy” housebuilders are constructing homes that are overwhelmingly of poor or mediocre design quality, according to a national housing audit conducted by University College London. Read more →
Architects’ Journal – Most new housing so poorly designed it should not have been built, says Bartlett report
Damage is being done to the environment and to residents’ health and quality of life through some of the poor schemes being built, the report says. The most common problem identified was an excess of tarmac or brick paving, due to poorly planned roads and a poor integration of bins and car parking. Read more →
The Parliamentary Review – UCL report criticises proliferation of new housing developments built beside roads
A report by University College London has criticised planners and engineers for allowing new housing developments to be built next to roads which do not accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
The release of the report comes after a government travel survey suggested that 76 per cent of people interviewed thought that drivers should “reduce how much they use their cars” for the benefit of the environment.
Responding to a housing design audit conducted by UCL for CPRE and the Place Alliance, Cllr David Renard, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, said:
“Councils want to work with the Government over the critical need for renewed national leadership on standards for new homes, which would give certainty to councils, developers and communities. These standards should future-proof all new homes, ensuring they are accessible for all ages and all markets, meet the housing needs of our ageing population and are environmentally sustainable.”
Building Design – Bartlett’s national housing audit finds ‘unethical’ housebuilders designing just 26% of homes well
The report, commissioned in June, is the first since Cabe, the government’s former architecture quango, conducted national audits in 2004 and 2007. It suggests the quality of design has improved somewhat, with the number of schemes being classed as poor or very poor since 2007 falling from 29% to 20%. Read more →
The design of new housing developments in England is overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’, with less-affluent communities the worst affected, according to a national audit conducted by UCL for CPRE, the countryside charity, and the Place Alliance. Read more →
A new report from University College London (UCL) says too many highways engineers are still approving roads that do not fully account for pedestrians and cyclists. It follows a government survey suggesting three quarters of people want to drive less to protect our health and the environment.
Its author, Prof Matthew Carmona, told BBC News: “Far too many new developments are still all about the car. “It’s all about making sure cars don’t need to slow down. Pedestrians and cyclists just have to get out of the way. Read more →
Matthew Carmona, a professor at University College London, whose team has surveyed new housing schemes across the country as part of a major forthcoming report, says big developers are producing too many estates with serious design flaws. “At present we are just not meeting the basic requirements for civilised living that we should expect in a country like our own,” he said. Read more →
University College London’s Bartlett School of Planning is to carry out an audit funded by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Place Alliance, a non-profit network whose supporters include the Planning Officers Society, Civic Voice, and the Local Government Information Unit. Read more →
Built environment organisations have come together to support the UK’s first national housing design audit, which plans to examine large-scale housing developments. Read more →
One of the country’s leading planning schools is to carry out an audit of design quality in housing developments across England, it has been announced. Read more here →