Good growth by design

What impact will Good Growth by Design have on London housebuilding?

One development finance lender has urged that London cannot lose sight of the primary goal of increasing housebuilding following the launch of the Good Growth by Design programme.

Sadiq Khan launched the Good Growth by Design programme earlier this month as he outlined his vision for London as the population heads towards 10 million people.

The programme focuses on setting ambitious design standards, supporting diversity in the build environment as well as opening design competitions for public projects.

It has been backed by design advocates including David Adjaye, Wayne Hemingway and Sadie Morgan.

More desirable homes grow quicker in value 
new home design
London has seen a variety of new building designs

Paul Riddell, head of marketing and communications at Lendy, said: "Housing built to a better standard is housing that is more desirable, and housing that grows in value more quickly.

“That’s a win for everyone.”

Alexander Moss, operations manager at Zorin Finance, was also encouraged by a more holistic focus.

“It is easy to build 1000s of cheap, ugly boxes which are ill-suited to the needs of the local population and place undue strain on existing infrastructure and amenities.”

Katy Katani, also of Zorin Finance, looked at how the programme could improve London’s eco-system.

She felt one advantage of it was “resilience to our changing climate and insurance that London is kept green and healthy; with clean air, easy access to green space and more efficient buildings supplied by cleaner energy”.

Katy also felt that the programme would provide better social integration amongst communities as well as new links enabling access and affordable travel.

Michael Dean, principal at Avamore Capital, felt the trick as to whether the programme would work was whether it could understand the difference in the values of neighbourhoods through being outcome led first, rather than product led.

“More attention needs to be paid towards mental health and wellbeing, as being seen through the lens of people having purpose homes are only good when people have self-worth to value their communities for the long term – this is achieved by a job market that is pluralised, rather than jobs only being in the service industry. 

“The housing market relies on a strong and diverse economy – better communication and collaboration in the beginning will mitigate any problems of ‘having to adopt’ new design rules. 

“Far too often the schemes that are delivered are soulless schemes that are pure dormitories with no sense of community or worse, future sink estates in the case of social/affordable housing."

Could this slow down housebuilding?

planning committee
Could the programme put further strain on under-resourced planning departments?

Alex welcomed the placing of the best and brightest planners and designers into underfunded planning departments, but still had reservations. 

“However, it is not clear how this measure will lead to increased output of planning approvals, rather than simply resulting in more complications and potential conflict between planners, designers and developers. 

“Furthermore, the use of design competitions to seek the highest standards for public projects sounds laudable on paper, but may simply end up costing extra time and money for little added benefit.”

Paul added: “While it’s important to ensure the quality of homes built in London is as high as it should be, we can’t lose sight of the primary goal – to increase housebuilding in the capital as quickly as possible. 

“The structural and regulatory barriers preventing that are an even more critical problem to overcome.”

Rico Wojtulewicz, policy adviser for the National Federation of Builders, also had concerns.

“A design code needs to be inclusive and not mean prohibitive material costs. 

“At this stage of the announcement, the biggest disadvantage will be upsetting Nimbys.”

Impact on developers/housebuilders

Could the programme increase costs for housebuilders and developers?

Rico felt the programme had the potential to deliver many different models of ownership and rent, particularly if it enabled SMEs and community involvement. 

“Unlocking smaller sites, infill and publicly owned land will help slow spiralling land costs and deliver many more opportunities for development.”

However, Alex wasn’t as sure whether it would benefit housebuilders and developers.

“With a skills shortage and rising building costs, it is yet to be seen whether the initiative can provide legitimately high-quality, beautiful homes that are also affordable to regular Londoners.”

Avamore has a strong relationship with Josh Artus from the Centric Lab, who are focused on design, and Michael felt good design didn’t have to cost more.

“In fact, taking a more rounded approach earlier on in the project can improve the planning application – any delays here due to local disapproval of design leads to financial repercussions we all know about.”

Looking at how increasing diversity could impact builders and developers, Alex felt it was vital not just for moral, but also pragmatic reasons. 

“With a major skill shortage problem, it is important to tap into underrepresented demographics. 

“We will never get the skills we need if half the population consider a career in the built environment professions to be unthinkable.”

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