The Coalition Government recently announced plans for 100,000 cut-price starter homes to be built in order to cope with the current housing crisis. In order to be able to build homes quickly and keep costs down it has been recommended that builders work to a national design template. In response, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President Stephen Hodder and the Landscape Institute’s Noel Farrer issued the following statement:
“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.”