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Pringle blasts UK housing standards

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Jack Pringle has urged architects to embrace housing design and labelled the UK's current housing standards as a 'disgrace'.

The outgoing RIBA president launched the broadside to coincide with the publication of the organisation's new housing policy document, 'Better Homes and Neighbourhoods'.

'For too long many architects have been disenfranchised from the housebuilding industry,' said Pringle.

'That cannot continue. As a profession we have the necessary skills, knowledge and passion for producing great homes and neighbourhoods and it's important that the architectural profession takes a lead on housing.

'It's a disgrace, for example, that the average new home sold to people today is significantly smaller than that built in the 1920s.

'It can't be right for individuals, families or communities to live in matchboxes. We're way behind the rest of Europe - even densely populated Holland has better proportioned houses than are being built in the UK. So let's see minimum space standards for all new homes,' he added .

The policy document calls on the government to bring England and Wales into line with other EU countries in terms of minimum space standards.

The document also describes the government's target of 200,000 new homes per year as 'insufficient to meet recent demographic predictions,' and calls for a 'combination of smarter regulation together with a streamlined planning system that recognises the importance of design quality is vital to future housing success.'

The RIBA urges the government to adopt a 'more flexible approach towards greenbelt land' and said, 'an attractive public realm should be an integral part of any housing development, with a focus on good landscape design and road and transport layout.'

'Better Homes and Neighbourhoods' can be downloaded from www.architecture.com

by Max Thompson

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