PM at Housing 2019: ‘New design standards for high-quality homes’

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Our Digital Editor, Steph Blundell, attended the Chartered Institute of Housing conference yesterday (26 June) where PM Theresa May urged new design standards to ensure the production of high-quality homes

As expected May’s ‘surprise’ attendance at the CIH Housing 2019 certainly didn’t go unnoticed. Queues began forming two hours prior to the speech and our Digital Editor was front and centre!

May entered the stage to address a fully-packed auditorium, noting, “The last time I visited this venue it was hosting the 2017 Conservative Party conference – when, it is fair to say, I had one or two problems with my speech.

“And if anyone is planning on running on stage waving a P45.

“You are a little bit late.”

The Prime Minister went on to urge new design standards to ensure high-quality homes, more social housing, and further tenant rights as part of an ongoing housing revolution

She also set out the next steps on the Social Housing Green Paper agenda, revealing an action plan can be expected in September.

Theresa May, said: “This is a government with a bold vision for housing and a willingness to act on it.

“A government that has delivered radical reforms for today, and the permanent structural changes that will continue to benefit the country for decades to come.”

However, she went on to warn against complacency, saying: “The housing shortage in this country began not because of a blip lasting one year or one Parliament, but because not enough homes were built over many decades.

“The very worst thing we could do would be to make the same mistake again.”

At Housing 2019, May called for new regulations to mandate developers to build higher-quality housing.

Currently, some local authorities make Nationally Described Space Standards a condition of granting planning permission.

But many do not – and even where standards are applied, they are not mandatory.

The Prime Minister said this has resulted in an uneven playing field, with different rules in different parts of the country, leaving “tenants and buyers facing a postcode lottery.”

She added: “I cannot defend a system in which owners and tenants are forced to accept tiny homes with inadequate storage…

“Where developers feel the need to fill show homes with deceptively small furniture…

“And where the lack of universal standards encourages a race to the bottom.”

May also confirmed plans to end so-called “no-fault” evictions, with a consultation to be published shortly.

Commenting on Theresa May’s call for mandatory design standards for new homes at the CIH conference, Sheron Carter, CEO of Housing Association Habinteg, said: “We are delighted that the Prime Minister spoke today about the importance of better design standards for all new homes.  It is vital that these standards include accessibility for older and disabled people.  Our recent accessible homes forecast revealed that, shockingly, only 1% of planned homes outside of London will be suitable for wheelchair users

“Currently only 7% of homes in England have even the most basic access features so we really need all new housing to offer good levels of accessibility and adaptability if we’re to get anywhere near meeting the needs of our whole population. Too many disabled and older people are making do in homes that are just not suitable for them.”

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