New design laws to ensure high-quality homes

Prime Minister Theresa May has urged for new design standards to ensure high-quality homes, more social housing, and further tenant rights as part of an ongoing housing revolution.

Addressing the Chartered Institute of Housing conference, the outgoing Conservative party leader is expected to set out next steps on the Social Housing Green Paper agenda, with an action plan expected in September.

While some local authorities make Nationally Described Space Standards a condition of granting planning permission, others do not. The Prime Minister will say this has resulted in an uneven playing field, with different rules in different parts of the country, leaving ‘tenants and buyers facing a postcode lottery’.

Proposed mandatory regulations would be universal, and provide a clear, national standards - potentially leading to increased housebuilding.

May said: “This is a government with a bold vision for housing and a willingness to act on it. A government that has delivered radical reforms for today, and the permanent structural changes that will continue to benefit the country for decades to come.

“The housing shortage in this country began not because of a blip lasting one year or one Parliament, but because not enough homes were built over many decades. The very worst thing we could do would be to make the same mistake again.”

Martin Tett, LGA’s Housing spokesman, said: “There is a critical need for renewed national leadership on standards for new homes, which give certainty to councils, developers and communities. These standards should future-proof all new homes ensuring they are accessible for all ages and all markets, meet the housing needs of our ageing population and are environmentally sustainable.

“High-quality homes for affordable and social rent are desperately needed across the country now, and councils need to be able to play a leading role in solving our housing crisis. The last time this country built homes at the scale that we need now was in the 1970s when councils built more than 40 per cent of them. Councils were trusted to get on and build homes that their communities needed, and they delivered, and they can do so again.

“It was good the government lifted the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap but it now needs to go further in the Spending Review by devolving Right to Buy so councils retain 100 per cent of their receipts and can set discounts locally.

“It should also scrap permitted development rights which take away the ability of local communities to shape the area they live in, ensure homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place and have resulted in the potential loss of thousands of desperately-needed affordable homes.”