The poorest groups in society want traditional homes and are least likely to support adventurous design, according to a new survey
The poll is part of a report by right-leaning think tank Policy Exchange, which warns that housebuilders need to put more emphasis on traditional design to gain support for new housing among existing communities.
However, it found much greater support for cutting-edge design among the middle-class socioeconomic group (AB) than among the group made up of the lowest paid and non-workers (DE).
Former Labour mayor of Newham, Robin Wales, who co-authored the report along with conservative philosopher Roger Scruton, said: ‘Poorer communities in particular are keen to see more traditional design and style which is more likely to fit in with existing buildings.’
The report found that DEs are most likely to agree that architects ‘should build comfortable and beautiful homes’, and to disagree more strongly that ‘new buildings should be adventurous, different or seek to shock’.
31 per cent of ABs think building should be adventurous, compared to 17 per cent of DEs, the research found.
And when asked ’Which, in your opinion, has the right “look and feel” for an urban London setting?’, the Barbican centre came bottom on a list of nine choices, behind the Alexandra Road council estate in Camden and Broadway Malyan’s St George’s Wharf.
Across all socioeconomic groups, 85 per cent of respondents said new homes should either fit in or be identical to homes already in the area.
The report said: ‘We believe the noted aesthetic needs are more easily met through traditional forms of architecture.
‘The need to break with the past found in the Modernist tendency is difficult to square with the individual’s need for settlement.
Development is also more likely to be acceptable to residents when it fits in, as opposed to stands out.’
However, it said that this architectural debate was often squeezed out because ‘so many of the decisions made around how to use space or design a building are exclusively financial’.
The report recommended that every local planning authority should consult residents in preparing design and style guides for new development.
It also called for quick planning permissions for developments conforming to these guides and where locals have been consulted.
A new designation of ‘special areas of residential character’ should also be created to ensure new developments are in keeping with existing homes.
In a foreword to the report, communities secretary James Brokenshire says: ‘Policy Exchange highlights a major concern in this report: the design, style and quality of new homes.
‘We want to see local communities intimately engaged in helping to shape the future of the development in their area, feeding in their views on the design and style of new developments and helping local authorities create style guides and codes which developers can use to meet the needs of communities.’
‘New homes shouldn’t be seen as a burden’
He says that he ‘looked forward’ to discussing matters of housing design further in coming months.
Brokenshire, who replaced Sajid Javid as housing secretary in a cabinet reshuffle in April added: ’New homes shouldn’t be seen as a burden on communities but rather as strengthening communities’.