William Eichler 03 May 2019

New housing should meet 10 safety principles, planners say

Planners have called for new legislation that would help tackle concerns over poor-quality housing.

The Town and Country Planning Association have proposed a ‘Healthy Homes Bill’ that would ensure all new housing meets 10 quality, safety and placemaking principles.

These principles would include a requirement that new housing is built to be safe from the risk of fire.

They also include a requirement that new homes should offer adequate living space and be located within a short walk of children’s play spaces.

This 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.

‘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,’ said Fiona Howie, chief executive of the TCPA.

‘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.’

The proposed bill has been formulated in response to research the TCPA undertook with University College London.

In one case study, the UCL researchers found a developer, using permitted development rights, had increased the number of flats in a building by 33% upon what was declared within their ‘prior approval’ application.

This can potentially lead to overcrowding and prevents the local authority from planning to meet the needs of residents,’ the TCPA warned.

‘In the rush to build more homes quality and safety is being overlooked. Surely everyone should agree that is unacceptable?’ Ms. Howie said.

‘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.’

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