The RIBA has responded to the housing green paper, which was unveiled in the House of Commons yesterday by the Housing Minister Yvette Cooper MP.
The main points of interest to the RIBA in the green paper are:
Recognition that poorly-designed new housing must be eliminated. The Minister told the Commons: "in the 1960s, quality was sacrificed in the name of speed. We must not make those mistakes again."
Revised housebuilding targets – 3 million new homes by 2020
Greater investment in affordable housing with a target of 70,000 new affordable homes per annum by 2010
Government proposal to make the Code for Sustainable Homes mandatory for all new homes
A review of the lessons learned from the 2007 floods
A discussion on alternative models to the proposed Planning Gain Supplement
Responding to the green paper, RIBA President Jack Pringle said:
"While today's headlines on the green paper are all about numbers and flooding, the lasting story has to be about good design. We certainly need more homes – but unless design quality is built into the Government's plans, I'm worried we'll be repeating the mistakes of the past when volume housebuilders packed estates with boring boxes, and lining ourselves up for some pretty devastating consequences. I'm pleased that Yvette Cooper recognises that and once again has spoken out for design.
"The RIBA is committed to doing what it can to deliver better homes and neighbourhoods by encouraging high design standards. We must reverse recent trends which have forced people into increasingly smaller homes that aren't designed to stand the test of time. And new homes must form communities with proper infrastructure, amenities, public space and jobs so new settlements won't become ghost towns from birth.
"As the events of this and recent weeks have shown, flooding is a devastating experience. An immediate lesson is that we cannot continue building on flood plains as if nothing has happened. But houses have to go somewhere – and housebuilding and design must go hand in hand if we are to find long-term responses to our current housing needs. That means dealing with problems such as flooding rather than ignoring them, and finding new innovative housing solutions that allow us to prepare for and protect against the worst while developing new and inviting communities.
"I am pleased the Government has accepted our recommendation that the Code for Sustainable Homes should be mandatory for all new homes. But given the importance of tackling the energy efficiency of the 21 million existing homes in England, the Government must come forward rapidly with a detailed programme to upgrade the energy performance of those homes if it is to meet its own carbon reduction targets."