A survey by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has branded a fifth of all social housing schemes ‘poor’ and lacking distinctiveness
Difficulty in navigating around the area and limited access to local amenities were other charges levelled at current housing schemes. The findings also show nearly two thirds (61 per cent) to be considered ‘average’ with just 18 per cent considered ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
As a result of these findings, CABE has teamed up with the HCA in a bid to improve design quality of new homes.
In a joint statement, Richard Simmons, chief executive of CABE and Sir Bob Kerslake, chief executive of the HCA, said: ‘We all want public housing to blaze the trail for good quality, sustainable design. This survey shows that too much social housing has not been good enough in recent years. High standards are crucial to improving quality.’
The survey did find some aspects of housing schemes were strong, including architectural quality and the tenure and accommodation mix. Many schemes also outperformed statutory minimum criteria, such as building regulations.
The report recommends closer work between registered social landlords (RSLs) and local planning authorities plus the enforcement of minimum design standards, including Building For Life. A design and sustainability advisory group is currently being set up by the HCA to provide independent strategic policy advice to the agency.
The survey was commissioned by the Housing Corporation, which together with English Partnerships became part of the HCA in December 2008.