Greater competition means better design
Designer Wayne Hemingway, a speaker at the recent Chartered Institute of Housing conference in Harrogate, reveals what he would do if he were housing minister.
“The first thing I’d do is create a system that encourages good design and that will only happen when there’s true competition in the property market.
“Businesses will only try good design when they want to outdo their competitors.
“At the moment, there aren’t enough houses being built and so more land needs to be released for development. I’d find that through greenbelt land that isn’t green, so the bottom 10 per cent of quality.
“I’d also release more public land owned by the NHS or the Forces, but I would radically change the present system for this kind of land, which is a combination of highest bidder and best design.
“What has happened in the past is that they’d have a design competition and a developer would bring in an architect and come up with an amazing project.
“This would win the competition, but then the developer would water down the design, back track on their initial promises and end up delivering something below standard.
“The only way round is that if only housebuilders who have proven they can deliver quality are allowed to bid.
“I also think that if there is a site for 1,000 homes, that should be split between 10 house builders. If three or four launch together on the first phase then there would be an element of competition that will drive up standards.
“I think carrots in the form of incentives work better than sticks and the carrot would be: if you don’t do it, someone else will do it better than you.” “One of the main challenges is to stop council housing and social housing being dirty words and seen as a last resort.
“I’d like to it to be seen as a positive choice for young people. So we have to get rid of the stigma. There is no stigma in many countries in Europe, where there are some good
I’d like us to get back to being a nation of small housebuilders with a reputation to keep up.
examples of great places to live. The first thing to get right is the design, which isn’t about money. It’s the small, easy things that make all the difference and the community should have a say on what they want. They could even band together.Get stuck in, make the place feel more friendly, create some amenity land. Communities can do a lot to help themselves. The problem is they sit and wait for someone to sort things out for them. “I’d like us to get back to being a nation of small housebuilders, who know the area they are building in and who have a reputation to keep up.
“I’d also like to see more selfbuilders. On every medium to large site in the country I’d like to see 20 per cent of the land given over for some innovative self-build.”