Debating good homes

The Good Homes Alliance (GHA) aims to be Britain’s leading authority on good homes. With this in mind it launched a primer for a ‘good homes debate’ at its conference last week. The document Get Britain Building Good Homes sets out what it believes is wrong with Britain’s new homes sector and presents ideas for a ‘national good homes plan’.

Before going any further, I should explain that I was involved in editing the document and writing the cases studies. This said, the opinions and thoughts expresses are down to the GHA.

Pete Halsall, GHA chair, believes that in housing we continue to fail. Even so, he thinks that Britain can become a good homes country. “A place where new housing developments can meet our definition of what a good home is and indeed exceed this, to do better. The prize for us and future generations is a legacy of homes that raise the spirits and create the environment for families and individuals to enjoy a good quality of life and greater social cohesion.”

In his foreword to the primer, Kevin McCloud explains that the good homes debate is both timely and necessary. “Britain is facing a housing crisis that is both qualitative and quantitative. The factors that need to be addressed are both practical and psychological; a product of systemic failure in the finance and development sectors but also of a profound cultural malaise.”

The document cites a range of issues in its analysis of what is wrong, from inadequate supply and lack of affordability to poor design, poor space standards and the absence of appropriate financing models. But it’s not all negative. In response to the challenges, the primer sets out ten key initiatives with underlying assumptions and more specific measures which the GHA believes both reflect wider sentiment and which, with political will and leadership, are deliverable. Importantly, the series of case studies that’s included examines the issues and offers compelling first hand examples from GHA members of what can be achieved.

As McCloud says, the scale of the challenge – and the opportunity – is enormous. “If we want to be able to hold our heads high we need to make sure that these houses are contemporary, sustainable, adaptable and every bit as desirable as the best of our historic building stock.”

What the GHA has done is light the touch paper for a debate that will hopefully embrace all in the industry and every one of us who looks to live in a good home.

Image: One Brighton – Crest Nicolson BioRegional Quintain