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Success for Howarth as design quality is written into Housing Bill

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A lobby group led by former architecture minister Lord Howarth (pictured) and the RIBA has succeeded in ensuring the new Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) champions good design.

Last night (7 July) the government agreed to an amendment to the Housing and Regeneration Bill, giving the HCA a statutory duty ‘to contribute to design quality in new housing’.

The legislation effectively sets out the role for the new ‘homebuilder superquango’, which will be created when English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation merge later this year.

The all important clause, section 2(1) of the bill, now reads: ‘The objects of the HCA are... to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and good design in England.'

A delighted Anna Scott-Marshall, the RIBA’s head of public affairs, said: ‘At a time when economic pressures on housebuilders could lead to design and quality being squeezed by more immediate pressures, this duty should ensure that this does not happen.'

She added: ‘The increased emphasis on design quality will have a significant impact upon the new affordable housing built in England.

'This means much more than aesthetics. High-quality design successfully adds value to homes and can achieve higher values for development sites, providing greater occupier satisfaction, and improved public spaces overall.’

Read Richard Vaughan's interview with Alan Howarth.

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