Landscape Institute response to today’s announcement by the Prime Minister on the creation of a new generation of starter homes

Joint statement from RIBA President Stephen Hodder and Landscape Institute President Noel Farrer:

“Design quality needs to be at the top of the agenda for starter homes. It is vital that the pressure to tackle the housing crisis doesn’t lead to sub-standard and unsuitable homes that families only move to out of a lack of alternatives.

As members of the Design Advisory Panel we will be urging the government to carefully balance the desire for fast and low-cost delivery with the need for sustainable development and high quality contextual design. It is important that in building new homes we ensure that they form successful places.

People want homes that are attractive, functional and sustainable, however the use of national ‘design templates’ for starter homes could result in generic properties that don’t fit into the area in which they are being built. This will make it much harder to gain the support of existing and future residents.

It is also important not to just focus on appearance. Well-designed homes are ones that function well and are set distinct appropriate places that can adapt to changes in the circumstances of their occupants. The design templates outlined do not address this.

The Community Infrastructure Levy and section 106 payments are often used to create the infrastructure that makes a place liveable as well as desirable. This will include schools and health centres as well as parks, playgrounds and other public amenities that make up a good neighbourhood and a great place to live.

The creation of poor quality places is short-sighted. We have demolished poor housing in poor housing areas across our cities that have been built in the last 50 years. We need to avoid making this mistake again.

Delivering housing without creating green infrastructure including tree-lined streets and parks is irresponsible. The government will be wasting private sector investment if it fails to create viable places where people really want to live.

Given the acute shortage of housing, poor quality housing will sell, but we will all be paying a high price in the future through failed communities.”