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Government sets up design panel to 'ensure quality of new homes'


Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that Terry Farrell and Quinlan Terry will sit on a new government-backed design panel to ‘set the bar on housing design across the country’

The body has been given the task of ensuring that ‘new homes are not only lower cost but also high quality and well-designed’.

Farrell said the panel built on the conclusions in the Farrell Review published earlier in the year: ‘This panel has the potential to make a real difference.

‘It builds on the recommendations of the Farrell Review, which highlighted the need for more proactive planning and better placemaking as we attempt to address the housing crisis, with radically higher priority given to landscape, sustainability and the public realm.

This panel has the potential to make a real difference

He added: ‘Only by planning and designing our villages, towns and cities together with local communities can we create the kind of built environment we all aspire to and should be demanding.’

Exact details of rhe panel’s make-up is not yet known, however it is understood it also includes professional writer and philosopher Roger Scruton and representatives from the Design Council, campaign group Create Streets, the RIBA and RTPI.

The news comes as the government unveiled its new Starter Homes initiative offering a 20 per cent discount on new homes for first-time buyers under the age of 40. The move will free up ‘under-used or unviable brownfield land’ from section 106 charges, with developers then obliged to sell the built homes for less than the market value.

Speaking about the Starter Homes programme, Cameron said: ‘Under this scheme, first-time buyers will be offered the chance of a 20% discount, unlocking home ownership for a generation.

‘This is all part of our long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain, making sure we are backing those who work hard and get on in life.’


Anna Scott-Marshall, RIBA head of external affairs:
‘We warmly welcome the launch of the new government design panel for housing. It is vital that the next generation of new build homes we build in Britain meet the requirements of those who will live in them and the communities in which they will be built.

‘It is encouraging that the government, industry and other professionals will work in collaboration to ensure that we build the right kinds of homes in the right kinds of places.

‘RIBA looks forward to working with the other members of the panel to bring about solving the housing crises within a generation.’

Terry Farrell at Farrell Review launch, March 2014

Terry Farrell at Farrell Review launch, March 2014


Readers' comments (7)

  • The Design Network already operates Design Review Panels across England - and work at a regional level - these panels include panellists with a vast array of experience and knowledge, including those who specialise in housing design. Local and Regional knowledge are very important factors in ensuring distinctiveness, knowledge of local markets and areas. Could not the government use these panels outside of London - panels that are already established, working and effective? Surely this would be more sustainable?

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  • Roger Scruton? Surely Toby Young should be there, the vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, whoever that is, Joanna Lumley - who else has cosied up to the coalition and is not an architect? The Jacob Rees Mogg role is taken by Quinlan Terry.
    Hopefully Terry Farrell can keep them all in line - the Farrell Review is a sound document.

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  • Would it be too much to ask if there were a token architect who was less than 65 on the panel, or is this for Tory supporters with a country estate only.

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  • Stelios Voutsadakis

    Terry Farrell, Roger Scruton and Quinlan Terry the 'troika' of architectural design!!! All architects that were in practice in the 70s will be back in business, mono-pitch roofs are in for a big come back, 2-storey houses and 3-storey block of flats will be back in fashion, and densities down to 100 ppa.

    Can we have two Hellman cartoons per issue from now on, please?

    Well said Judith; Jonathan you know the answer to your question, any way the new housing is for old people, young people can not afford new housing

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  • Ben Derbyshire

    To 'ensure the quality of new homes' is a task with a heavy burden of responsibility for anyone - and one that will need accredited benchmarks of recognisable performance and quality that transcend the various aesthetic predilections of the panel members selected by Brandon Lewis. I hope the panel will turn to Building for Life 12 devised by Design for Homes and recognise the Housing Forum's work on Home Performance Labelling which features as a case study in the Farrell Review update. This issue is far too important to be left to the mandarins of taste - of whatever complection.

    Ben Derbyshire

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  • This panel has been announced as part of the consultation on the 'Starter Homes' initiative, but it's not at all clear what its remit will be. Will it be restricted to 'Starter Homes' or is its role to uphold standards in all housing? And as it is to be 'chaired by ministers' it certainly isn't going to be a design review panel but something far more strategic. Yet again chaos reigns......

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  • It is the government's hope that nearly 300,000 new homes will be built annually; if anything like this is realised, within four years, this could amount to a million new homes/ houses. These will inevitably form a visible and public backdrop to our lives. It is essential that the government should give thought to the consequences of this policy. One million new homes must sit happily one with another. Ideally, this will require evolving a ‘language of the ordinary’ were an Implied Order is allowed to govern those essential ingredients of scale, and proportion. It should be an architecture were local materials are used and clearly understood. These were the principles, which governed much of our existing stock, we must learn from the past. Who better to remind the government of this than two people who have thought about this all their professional lives, namely Quinlan Terry and Roger Scruton

    John Melvin

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