Builders told to improve home design standards

House builders must adopt better design standards because the quality of most new homes is only "average", the government's architecture watchdog warned this week.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) audited 100 housing developments in London, the South East and East of England built between 2001 and 2003 by the top ten developers. It found the design quality of 61 per cent of homes average, 22 per cent poor and only 17 per cent good or very good.

Homes were judged according to character, environment, road integration, parking, pedestrianisation, design and construction. Environmental and community standards, such as integrating public and private space, were regularly met across the majority of schemes and are now the norm, the audit acknowledges.

But it bemoans the dominance of highways infrastructure and limited evidence of bespoke design across all developments. The audit report also highlights the industry's inconsistency, with all surveyed house builders earning high and low scores.

For example, two London developments by St James scored very differently.

Islington's New River Head was categorised as "very good", while the Aspect in Enfield was "average".

CABE chief executive Richard Simmons complained: "Conflict in the development process is stifling creativity and quality."

The Housing Audit: Assessing the Design Quality of New Homes can be viewed via

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