Adam Branson - Property Week
Will the Ideas be Implemented?
The final report from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission published last week outlined a list of ideas with huge implications for housebuilders and developers. The question is whether they will actually be implemented.
Times of Israel
45 Policy Proposal
The report proposes 45 policies to support the building of more beautiful homes. These include a reduction in VAT on renovation schemes, the introduction of minimum standards for permitted development rights and a fast-track planning system for well-designed schemes.
Fast Track Planning
Secretary of state for housing Robert Jenrick expressed interest in the latter last week, saying it “can’t be right” that developers get held up at the planning stage after spending extra time ensuring a scheme is well designed.
Planning White Paper
Rebekah Paczek, managing director at public affairs consultancy Snapdragon, says this means ”we may see a nod to that in the planning white paper, which is expected to be published in the next few weeks”.
Doubts over Beauty
Paul Finch, programme director of the World Architecture Festival, doubts whether the report’s suggestion that planning applications should be decided on the basis of beauty will be introduced, once the full implications of the proposal are considered.
“The thrust of the National Planning Policy Framework, especially the section on design, is trying to get at the same thing,” says Finch. “But it does not bandy the word ‘beauty’ about as some sort of eternal criterion that everyone down the pub agrees is the same thing, which quite clearly it is not.”
Another suggestion in the report is that councils should develop “clearer masterplans and firmer guidance as to what is and is not possible” as this “would set greater clarity for land values and guide future development”.
According to Alex Woolcott, associate in the planning team at Winckworth Sherwood, this chimes with recommendations in a recent report from think tank Policy Exchange. The NPPF does not bandy ‘beauty’ about as some sort of eternal criterion
Paul Finch, World Architecture Festival, says: “I’ve heard that it is being looked at closely by the No. 10 policy unit,” he says, adding that some version of a more zonal masterplanned approach is likely to be part of the forthcoming planning white paper.
Seeing the Trees
Easy win: planting more trees on developments is seen as a proposal that the government could get behind. Increasing the number of trees planted on developments is also seen as a no-brainer. “This is an easy one for the government to get behind,” says David Scane, associate partner at public affairs firm Newgate Communications. “After all, it was a manifesto commitment and is relatively straightforward to implement in planning terms.”
Other demands are less likely to be introduced. The commission recommends that the government brings VAT on housing renovation and repair in line with that on new-builds in order to promote the re-use of existing buildings. Currently, new-builds are largely VAT-free, while renovations are subject to the full 20%.
Finch thinks this is unlikely to happen. “If you reduce VAT [for renovation] – and there is a powerful case to do that – you have to start applying VAT for new construction to make up the shortfall,” he says. “I think that’s unlikely because the government will say ‘we want new housing’.”
What Will Be ‘Beautiful’?
With such a range of proposals on the table, time will tell just how much of an impact, if any, the commission’s report will have on making the UK’s new houses more beautiful.
DfMA (Design for Manufacture & Assembly
While Committees and reports gather dust, we’re in the business of delivering Beautiful Buildings that are highly energy efficient and environmentally sustainable. We’ve spent many years creating them to respect and promote all types of design, so we’re absolutely in the right place to help you, your buyers or tenants, and to adapt our business innovations and developments to your projects . This really means engaging with your whole team to deliver on time and within budget. It requires a systematic, solution driven approach which brings discipline to the process, sharing information and communications. Applying DfMA (Design for Manufacture & Assembly) defines the process of taking these to the next level; a welcome change in the overall approach to project management and development – and to those who just ‘talk about it’!
Partnering for Progress
All of this entails a shift in thinking to that already practiced by established ‘Off-Site’ MMC manufacturers. It can be quickly and easily incorporated into procedures and processes of building and development. Better still, you can make partnering arrangements with such manufacturers to gain all round benefits.
Greater Speed, Accuracy, Quality and Lower Costs
Greater collaborative ‘partnering’ between architects, builders and manufacturers will deliver these. The greater speed, accuracy and quality that can result from manufacturing components in a dry, controlled factory environment, together with the ability tom incorporate (yet to be invented) ‘Smart Ware’ gives home builders perhaps the only way of achieving this, together with improved on-site build quality AND controlling costs.
While resistance to the change to DfMA has been the norm, the wish of most UK Builders to deliver excellent customer service and top notch homes is now driving an increasing number to choose Off-Site for their developments. Also, as ‘OffSite Hub” note, architects and designers are moving toward DfMA, something we have been encouraging for over 20 years. The emergence of LA Developers will only speed up this process.
Easy Timber Frame
To assist them in doing so our “Easy Timber Frame “ now offers standard size modular timber frame elements for them to use as a design base, cutting down on technical design and engineering to produce win-win results. This virtually provides any housebuilder or architect with their own bespoke design factory facility.