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New guide to give Design for London more sway over capital's housing

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Design for London (DfL) is to have unparalleled influence over London's new housing when it publishes its Housing Design Guide in January 2008, Mayor Ken Livingstone has revealed.

It is understood the guide, which will accompany the Mayor's statutory Housing Strategy when it is published in the New Year, will help to inform planners, developers and architects on housing design.

Although it has no statutory powers, the Housing Design Guide aims to promote planning reform and to act as a best-practice guide for housing design in the capital.

DfL director Peter Bishop (pictured) said: 'The purpose of the guide is to get a positive debate going on housing. It will try and answer the questions on how you can produce high-quality housing designs at high density that will endure.

'It will look at space standards, floor-to-ceiling height and the quality of internal layout.'

But Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said responsibility for quality of design remains in the hands of councils, as set out in the Housing Green Paper.

She said: 'Through the green paper we put greater emphasis on the new planning rules that came out in April, on local councils being able to set higher standards on design.

'They should be giving more developments the go-ahead, but they should also be demanding higher standards in terms of the quality.'

Whether the planning system can cope with demands depends on the local authority in question, according to RIBA planning group chair Peter Stewart.

He said: 'The system does allow for planning authorities to ensure good design, but it is up to them to demand good quality for design.

'Where you are seeing poor design being passed through the system is where

the council is not using the planning system as it should.'

by Richard Vaughan

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