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RIBA publishes toolkit to drive design standards in new housing

The RIBA has published Design Matters: Promoting Good Design Through the Planning System - a toolkit for local authorities to help improve the design standards of new homes.

22 January 2019

The RIBA has published a toolkit for local authorities to help improve the design standards of new homes. The document, Design Matters: Promoting Good Design Through the Planning System, follows a series of publications from the Institute aimed at enhancing the quality of the built environment and highlighting examples of high-quality, RIBA award-winning housing built at scale.

The toolkit is for anyone with an interest in the built environment and, more specifically, local decision makers such as councils, MPs and local authorities. It explains and references the tools that are already available through the planning system that can influence good design, such as design reviews and housing design guides.

How will this promote architects and their role in creating new homes?

RIBA’s report Design Matters: RIBA Award Winning Homes showcased the high-quality housing developments by award-winning architecture practices of recent years. They prove that the tools to create quality housing are already within the current planning system and that architects are a vital part of any building project. This document will guide local decision makers; allowing them to demand quality and sustainable housing in their area and promote the central role of architects in doing this.

This document also works alongside RIBA’s placemaking report, Ten Characteristics of Places Where People Want to Live, which sets out the necessary conditions required at a local level to achieve high quality design. This includes the right leadership, the right funding and delivery models, the right collaborative and innovative processes, and the right skills and resources.

How will the RIBA use this document?

The RIBA will be taking this document right to the heart of local government; placing it in the hands of decision makers to show them how they can create housing that is fit for the future.

All too often, design standards are seen as an impediment to delivering new homes. Our first Design Matters report has shown that this is not the case. If adopted, the tools identified in our latest document provide greater certainty for both local authorities and developers by bringing clarity over the design expectations for a local area from the outset of a project. By producing this document, we have shown how local authorities can integrate the tools for improving design into the planning process. We can also hold decision makers to account – the tools to create great homes are available, they must now act to drive up design standards.

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said, “If we are serious about tackling the housing crisis in this country, we have to do more to facilitate good design. The majority of new housing in this country has not been designed by an architect, and the poor quality of what has been delivered as a result has led to a lack of public trust in the ability of the planning process to protect the built environment. This document identifies the necessary tools to deliver improved design standards and ensure that our planning system provides the right homes where people want to live.”

The projects featured in these reports are all RIBA Award winning developments.

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