Achieving good design

The built environment has a strong impact on the way people feel about their local areas. New developments should provide communities with homes that are comfortable and well matched to their needs, and a public realm that is safe and inviting.

Lessons Learned

Modern design and architecture can provoke strong reactions from some people, but it also has the potential to transform the feel of an area.

See: Manchester

Meeting regulatory environmental standards should not be about 'ticking boxes' but should be about driving forward innovative building approaches and technologies.

See: East Thames & Hammarby Sjöstad

New communities should not be dominated by cars and roads, but must be places that are safe for children, pedestrians and cyclists.

See: Dings

Subtle design features continued through older housing into new housing can help both areas feel more visually connected.

See: Dings

High design standards will help ensure that all the new homes will be of good quality and will be part of a strategy to maintain the desirability of an area over the longer term.

See: Walker Riverside

Questions to consider:

  • How can the highest standards of housing design be implemented?
  • What is the best way to ensure that homes are able to adapt to people's changing needs over time?
  • How can we design environments that are easily maintained and managed?
  • How can crime and fear of crime be minimised through design?
  • How can a neighbourhood be planned to create a desirable place where people will choose to live?
  • How can we foster community interaction and neighbourliness through design?

In 2006, the Commission for Architecture and Built Environment (CABE) surveyed hundreds of residents who had moved on to 33 new housing developments. Many of the people that took part did not feel that their new environment was suited to their family's needs:

  • 40 per cent thought that there was not enough public open space in the development
  • 34 per cent thought the layout of their development was unsafe for children to walk, cycle or play in the streets
  • 45 per cent said that they live in the kind of neighbourhood where people mostly go their own way rather than doing things together and trying to help each other
  • Over half felt the internal spaces and layout of their home allowed them to adapt, convert and extend their homes, but a sizeable minority, 43 per cent did not agree.

New communities of the future have the potential to achieve higher levels of resident satisfaction than many places already built have done. Both the design of homes and that of the wider neighbourhood will need to be carefully considered. Local authorities in their role as place-shapersGlossary: local government's wider, strategic role to use powers and influence to promote the general
well-being of a community and its citizens. will need to ensure that place design meets the requirements of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCAGlossary: Homes and Communities Agency) and their own sustainable communitiesGlossary: Sustainable communities meet the social, economic and environmental needs of existing residents without reducing the same opportunities for future generations strategies, and will work with other stakeholdersGlossary: A group of people or an organisation with a legitimate interest in a given situation, action or enterprise including urban planners, architects and developers to ensure the needs and aspirations of future and existing residents can be met.

Further Reading

Elements within this ingredent:

1. Good housing design

Houses act as a hub for family life. They should provide comfortable, functional and flexible spaces for people. They should also respond positively to the other buildings around them and contribute to the character of a place.

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2. Lifetime Homes

The houses we build today will need to last for many years and adapt to the changing needs of their first and future residents. Homes should be flexible enough to be easily changed as residents grow older or if their lifestyles change.

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3. Good neighbourhood design

Good neighbourhood design will have an important role in promoting community cohesion by providing public spaces that are comfortable and inviting for local people.

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4. Designing out crime

The risk of crime can be reduced through careful design, ensuring that homes and public spaces are visible, making it harder for people to commit crime without being seen.

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5. Methods to achieve good design

Good design throughout the neighbourhood will help a new community to develop its own character and identity. There are various methods that project partners can use to ensure that new settlements are attractive and desirable places for residents.

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7. New communities need to provide for all generations

"Cohesive communities need a balanced age profile" - this is a finding from the New Towns review, which noted that many of the early New Towns were dominated by young families and social rented housing so failed to attract a mix of backgrounds, ages and ethnicities.

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