The Academy of Urbanism supports UK’s first ever national housing design audit

With 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.

To measure this, the Place Alliance (UCL) and CPRE, with the support of The Academy of Urbanism, Home Builders Federation, Urban Design Group, Civic Voice, Design Council, UK Green Building Council, and Institute for Highways and Transportation have joined forces to support the first ever national housing design audit. The work is also supported by professional input from Arup, JTP, Spawforths and URBED and a network of specially trained volunteers across the country.

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 notes), 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.

Academician and UCL’s Professor Matthew Carmona AoU, who is leading the research, said “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”.

Paul Miner, who leads on strategic planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said, “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.

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