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Homes England uses muscle to drive development quality

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Homes England, the government housing and regeneration body, is to insist that developers seeking to work with it must adopt its Built for Life criteria.

This will be a condition of accessing any of Homes England’s funds and sites from later this year and is intended to ensure that homes built using public money are both well-designed in themselves and fit into harmonious environments.

Homes England’s £4.5bn home building fund is open to builders of all sizes and to regeneration projects, though those benefiting from it must secure planning permission from councils in the usual way.

Requiring BfL compliance is part of moves towards meeting the government’s aim of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, but is intended to avoid the poor design issues that blighted many estates in the past.

Bidders for land or money are expected to have to show that they meet sufficient relevant criteria (see box).

Homes England’s head of planning, enabling and design Lindsey Richards said: “Where our land is being developed by our partners they will be required to demonstrate how design has been considered and applied on all projects and detailed layouts will be assessed against BfL12 criteria.

“We have adopted these to benchmark good design through activities within our land programmes, embedding them into our conversations with partners from the very start and through the lifespan of a project.”

Mandatory self-assessment against the BfL12 criteria will become part of Homes England’s tender process.

The Built for Life criteria:  
Integrating into the neighbourhood Creating a place Street and home
1 connections 5 character 9 streets for all
2 facilities and services 6 working with the site and its context 10 car parking
3 public transport 7 creating well defined streets and spaces 11 public and private spaces
4 meeting local housing requirements 8 easy to find your way around 12 external storage and amenity space

Self-assessments will be evaluated against a specific number of the criteria set out in invitations to tender, using a ‘traffic light’ system with successful bidders being those with the most ‘greens’.

Homes England’s support for BfL is part of a drive by the government to improve housing design, which has included the establishment of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

Its first chair Sir Roger Scruton for sacked in April for making offensive remarks on unconnected subjects, but it is still due to report in the autumn on how new housing developments can promote better design and “make the planning system work in support of better design and style, not against it”.

LGC Future Places

Homes England chief executive Nick Walkley will be among the senior figures seaking at LGC’s Future Places event next month. The event takes place in Birmingham from 22-23 May and seeks to support councils to form the relationships that can get new developments off the ground, and offer inspiration to shape their rapidly changing places to promote fairness and opportunity.

To enquire about reserving a space please email




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