Allister Hayman’s article ‘Housing flashpoints’ (30.01.15) identified design quality as one of a series of battlegrounds in the forthcoming general election campaign.
Poor-quality design often results in political or financial liability once buildings are complete - by which time it’s too late. Housing design quality should not be a political football. The early use of design review by developers and local authorities can prevent such difficulties and is a worthwhile investment for all concerned. The industry’s uncertain response to the government’s recent announcement of a new design review body for housing suggests, however, we are not there yet.
At Design South East, we operate the South and East Panel - the longest established design review panel in the UK - in a part of the country where the tension between addressing years of housing undersupply and the need for quality is particularly acute. Happily, more and more developers and local authorities are calling on our design review service - a ready-made pool of world-class expertise that can make the difference between planning consent and refusal and often identifies ways to further improve the value and viability of a scheme.
Our partners in the national body Design Network offer similar services throughout the country - applying a tried-and-tested model that can be applied to all kinds of development.
We know that successful, viable development can go hand in hand with design quality. We look to encourage consensus among local authorities and developers that raising the bar in terms of housing design brings clear benefits for householders, communities and balance sheets alike.
Chris Lamb, director, Design South East