An all-party parliamentary group has recommended that the government create a New Homes Ombudsman to help ensure the quality of new housing
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment is launching an inquiry into whether an ombudsman who could act as a design guardian and boost the satisfaction of new home owners should be introduced. This role would be in addition to the existing Housing Ombudsman, who is tasked with looking into complaints about a number of housing organisations.
The body, chaired by Conservative MP Jo Churchill, decided to launch the inquiry following its 2016 report More homes, fewer complaints. This concluded that ’when consumers do have problems [with their homes], they find their means of redress is inadequate’.
The report also stated: ’While the number of new homes being built has risen, satisfaction levels have fallen … we need to be building new homes that are fit for purpose, are of enduring quality, perform to the requisite levels of energy efficiency and give pride and enjoyment to those that buy them.’
The all-party group’s inquiry will look at the potential scope for a New Homes Ombudsman, how it could work in practice, and the current complaints procedures for those buying new homes.
Churchill said: ’As the government embarks on an ambitious programme of housebuilding, it is more important than ever that individuals have protection for and redress over, probably their largest lifetime purchase.’
Other members of the built environment body include the cross-party peer John Lytton (vice-chair); Labour MP Helen Hayes; Conservative MP James Cartlidge; Conservative MP Ranil Jayawardena; Labour MP Sarah Champion; independent cross-bench peer Richard Best; and Lib Dem peer Andrew Stunell.
AJ editorial director and former CABE chair Paul Finch said: ’The bogus proposition that we can only build a sufficiency of homes by lowering design standards is a pernicious myth. I liked the AJ campaign slogan, ‘More Homes, Better Homes’ precisely because it rejected the idea that more means worse.
’We have wonderful housing architects in the UK more than capable of designing what we need, including the design of modular systems which will no doubt be necessary to make up the current shortfall.
’Too many housebuilders make design and construction quality flexible - in a bad way - because they have overpaid for sites. Politicians need to wake up to the need to supply public land to the housing sector at low prices, but only on the basis of quality of outcome, as well as quantity.’