Audit slams 80% of new build homes as 'mediocre'

Four-out-of-five buyers of new build houses and flats have to settle for "mediocre properties", according to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe).

The commission also called on new home buyers to be more demanding as it published the results of the first phase of the "biggest ever audit" of housing developments in England.

The audit found that that 22% of the schemes were judged to be ‘poor’, a further 61% were ‘average’, while only 17% were judged ‘good’ or ‘very good’. The audit investigated 100 new housing developments across London, the South East and East of England and scored them on their design and suitability for the area where they were built.

Cabe said that planners, developers and highways engineers had been guilty of giving too much prominence to car parking and roads, and rarely use local materials that can help create a sense of place and character.

The audit also concluded that the conflicts which arise between developers and planning departments in local authorities frequently lead to developers "following the path of least resistance".

Cabe said the audit findings suggested that the challenge for the one million new homes planned for London and the South East by 2016 and the much larger number planned throughout England was to "deliver quality not just quantity".

Richard Simmons, Cabe Chief Executive said: "Many of the house builders in our audit have received awards for the quality of their best schemes. They have shown it is possible. The challenge is to be excellent all the time. What is now the best in new home design must become the norm. None of us should settle for mediocre."

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said that the audit revealed that some house builders knew the real value of investing in excellent design, and it was now time for the rest "to catch up with the best".

A new website, www.thehomebuyersguide.org, launched by CABE to coincide with the audit's publication, is designed to give new home buyers clear information on what to look out for when purchasing a home and to encourage them to ask tough questions of estate agents and house builders.


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