In reply to Martin Pawley's column last week (AJ 21.10.04), given that the government has set targets to build more than a million homes in London and the South East in the next 12-15 years, the issues of how they will be built and whether they are sustainable are legitimate and important for CABE to consider.
This can only be done effectively if we look at the recent track record of house building.
The audit Pawley dislikes looked at 100 schemes built by volume housebuilders from 2001-03 and assessed them against 16 criteria, from the design of public spaces to the quality of materials used. The full range of criteria and project methodology are included in the report (available at www. cabe.
org. uk). The schemes were chosen to represent the full range of housing types and prices available. It was not intended to name and shame, more to give a general picture of the quality levels of new housing today.
The audit forms only one part of our work - we have also produced a consumer guide to buying a well-designed home, which is available in bookshops, and a website aimed at house buyers at www. thehomebuyers guide. org. We are also working directly with housebuilders to influence designs at an early stage through our enabling and design review programmes.
Far from 'supporting high house prices and slowing down housing completions', as Pawley suggests, we are promoting improved standards, which are surely necessary given the welcome increase in supply set to take place in London and the South East.
Richard Simmons, chief executive, CABE