CABE (the Commission for Arcitecture and the Built Environment) has published Simpler and Better, a report which argues for the introduction of a minimum design standard for homes, combined with better, leaner regulation of new homes through (for example) the planning and building regulation systems.
While, on the face of it, CABE’s proposals currently stand little chance of becoming government policy, some of its conculsions make stark reading:
“The market alone is not going to deliver good design quality consistently unless the supply of land is completely deregulated. This is very unlikely to happen, so if we want better design quality, the planning system and public funding regimes have to mandate it and make sure that it is delivered… The most equitable and effcient way to do this is to use minimum design standards…”
(Page 36, Conclusions 1 and 2, Simpler and Better.)
Parts of Simpler and Better make enlightening reading from an economic or policy perspective, but it also touches on feelings in the construction and housebuilding sector that current regulation is a burden, is ineffective, and overlaps one area with another. In CABE’s words:
“There is a number of existing standards for housing that have developed over the last decade alongside planning policy and building regulations… But they overlap and cross reference each other, adding to the regulatory burden of delivery, and some vital elements are missing. Others are not applied universally.”
(Pages 22 and 23, The case for a minimum design standard, Simpler and Better.)
As such, while it may seem a long way from the current reality, CABE argues that simpler, better regulation can be combined with improved design to create better houses and better places. After all, CABE argues, the minimum design standard for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has produced real results.