Healthy Homes Act needed to tackle poor-quality housing

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is calling for a new, ground-breaking piece of legislation to transform the quality of new homes in England.

The association claims that such proposals would force ministers to make sure that all new housing meets ten quality, safety and placemaking ‘principles’, attributes that collectively constitute a ‘decent’ home.

Principles put forward in the organisation’s draft ‘Healthy Homes Bill’ include a requirement that new housing is built to be safe from the risk of fire, includes adequate living space and is located within a short walk of children’s play spaces.

The announcement coincides with the centenary of the Housing and Town Planning Act 1919, a key piece of legislation which helped transform the quality and delivery of council housing, giving ordinary people a decent home.

Fiona Howie, chief executive of the TCPA, said: “There is a need for more homes but it is essential that they are of a high quality. Too often that is not the case. The very worst examples we have seen have come through the deregulated conversion of old office blocks and storage facilities into housing units. The creation of these cramped and substandard housing units is even more scandalous given what we know about the impact of housing conditions on people’s health and well-being. Poor quality, badly designed housing damages people’s life chances.

“In the rush to build more homes quality and safety is being overlooked. Surely everyone should agree that is unacceptable? We have gone backwards over the last 100 years. The Healthy Homes Act will help make sure that new homes built today leave a positive legacy. We know there is cross party political support for new homes and we hope there will be cross party support for this vital piece of new legislation to help transform the kinds of homes and places we are creating now and for future generations.”

The ten principles proposed in the draft ‘Healthy Homes Bill’ are as follows: all new homes must be safe in relation to the risk of fire; all new homes must have adequate liveable space; all main living areas and bedrooms in new homes must have access to natural light; all new homes must be accessible and the environments the homes are in must have access to natural light; all new homes in major developments must be within walkable neighbourhoods; all new homes must secure radical reductions in carbon emissions in line with the provisions of the Climate Change Act (2008); all new homes must have walkable access to green and play space which is open to everyone; all new homes must be resilient to a changing climate; all new homes must be secure and meet designing out crime standards; and that all new homes must meet enhanced standards to prevent unacceptable noise pollution.

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