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CABE backs design coding

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CABE has thrown its weight behind deputy prime minister John Prescott's preference for design coding in the development of 'sustainable communities'.

The design watchdog has published research that it believes proves that coding successfully counters the monotony of boring housing estates.

A new report - published yesterday and called 'Design Coding: Testing its use in England' - sets out interim findings from a study examining the effectiveness of coding.

The initial results suggest that time spent preparing a code does bring dividends in terms of fast-tracking a proposal through the planning process, improving design quality and getting buy-in to large-scale housing developments.

According to the published case studies, a development produced with design codes is likely to be of notably higher quality.

One example used was the Newhall development in Harlow, which has been awarded a Building for Life Gold Standard and an RIBA housing award. The code for Harlow included strict requirements for design.

Speaking at the summit, CABE chief executive Richard Simmons said: 'The challenge over the next few years is to deliver new housing of the quantity and quality required. CABE's recent housing audit found that, while the majority of housebuilders have demonstrated they are able to deliver places of quality, achieving this across the board is still rare.

'The coding research and pilot projects show promise in helping to tackle mediocre new housing,' he added. 'What is becoming apparent is that a code will only be as good as the thought that has been put into it and the expertise of those who implement it.'

by Ed Dorrell

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