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RIBA paper urges fresh approach to new-build housing

Bold new approaches are needed to raise the standard of new-build homes and unlock the ‘hidden market’ for high quality housing in the UK, according to a new discussion paper from the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA).

'Improving Housing Quality: Unlocking the Market' raises concerns about the impact of the recession leading to further deterioration in housing quality, and examines some of the underlying systemic problems which continue to undermine standards and limit consumer choice and confidence in the new-build housing market.

The paper calls for a move away from short-term speculative housebuilding, suggesting that new partnerships between more autonomous local authorities, institutional investors and local community groups with a long-term stake in new housing development may be the most effective way of addressing the poor quality of many new housing developments in the UK.

Key recommendations for discussion include:

•Local authorities to have more autonomy and play a more proactive role in development, both through greater financial independence and access to design expertise

•A reshaping of the planning system so that the costs associated with producing a good quality product are reduced, including the introduction of permitted development and community led design codes and masterplans

•A kitemark system should be used and administered by central government, indicating that a particular home meets an advised minimum size for a certain number of occupants

RIBA President Ruth Reed said: “There is a clear need to build more new homes in the UK, but we need to make sure that the homes we build are attractive to consumers and that they will stand the test of time. There is no doubt that the new build market in the UK needs serious and immediate attention; not only to contend with the quantity, but also the quality of the properties available.”

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