Better By Design
Chris Drake, manager of our Sherborne sales office, on the importance of preserving and enhancing our wonderful towns and villages
The post of housing minister is a little bit like pass the parcel but we would hope that, once the music stops, the better policy ideas are unwrapped and then passed along to ensure that they become law.
One of the better ideas is the National Design Code which will encourage greater community involvement in shaping new homes and creating the kinds of places in which people genuinely want to live. It will illustrate how well-designed places that are beautiful, enduring and successful can be achieved in practice
The idea is that there will be a presumption in favour of homes on streets – with front doors, quality facades, roofs complying with local tradition, and respecting concerns for local vernacular and heritage. And a presumption, for the first time, in favour of tree-lined streets.
Similarly, the Future Homes Standard will ensure gold standards for sustainable, environmentally friendly homes which, like our garden cities of the past, will actually stand the test of time. Every new home from 2025 will have low- or zero-carbon emissions and the highest levels of energy efficiency.
There is also talk of a Heritage Preservation Campaign where local communities and heritage groups will be encouraged to get far more involved in identifying the historic buildings in their area so they can be at the heart of the process of recognising, defining and protecting the buildings they truly value.
It will see local people coming forward to nominate the buildings and community assets they cherish – protecting them for future generations. The Government will be backing this programme with £500,000 of investment – giving counties the tools, funding and expertise they need.
This builds on the £95m that Government announced earlier this year to unlock the economic potential of 69 historic high streets to ensure that these important places can be refreshed and renewed.
At the heart of this will be local people, as well as a new team of heritage activists, who will be working across England to find these buildings and get them listed, locally or nationally, as soon as possible.
This will go hand in hand with Government plans to protect the planet, as there is more recognition that we must be building to last. Research shows that the construction, demolition and excavation of old homes generates around three-fifths of total UK non-hazardous waste every year.
Developers are rediscovering the value in the renovation and refurbishment of Victorian terraces. Like the Welsh Streets of Liverpool – streets that were under serious and needless threat of being knocked down. These are now in a new wave of regeneration and renewal.
The housing ministry also need to be ambitious, creative and imaginative in repurposing commercial and public buildings.
This all sounds rather exciting but how long will a housing minister stay in post? There have been 16 since 2000 but let us hope that the music keeps playing and we can see these exciting ideas come to fruition.