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Residential regulation – Design Standards

Comment 2nd September 2010

There is an opportunity to reform and rationalise the number of residential design standards that apply to new housing. This would tackle the sheer number of standards that currently includes: Building for Life, Code for Sustainable Homes, Design for Manufacture, Lifetime Homes, Secured by Design and Design for London. 

Some of these standards appear subject to frequent change, for example over the last eight years, affordable housing in London has been subject to Scheme Development Standards, then Housing Quality Indicators, and now the new Design for London Standards. Many of these standards have entirely appropriate individual aims, but it is their cumulative impact that is problematic as they are increasing cost and complexity for developers, reducing the viability of individual developments, and ultimately resulting in reduced housing delivery.

The second problem is applying common standards to very different situations across the country. For example ‘Lifetime Homes’ are very much an appropriate standard in some locations, but not others. The third problem relates to the enforcement of standards. There is often no clear deliniation between planning departments and building regulations departments and conflicting advice between the two, as the Penfold Review points out.

Why does this matter?

Many of these standards have entirely appropriate individual aims, but it is their cumulative impact that is problematic as they are increasing cost and complexity for developers, reducing the viability of individual developments, and ultimately resulting in reduced housing delivery.

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