The architecture and landscape design company HTA Design has called The Letwin Review announced in the Autumn budget a “win” for the design sector.
HTA said the review recognised the importance of well-designed places with varying house types and tenures in distinct settings, and, landscapes and street-scapes that people want to live in.
The Letwin Review concluded that the homogeneity of the types and tenures of the homes commonly available from the major housebuilders limits the rate at which the market can absorb such products.
The review states: “…if either the major house builders themselves, or others, were to offer much more housing of varying types, designs and tenures (and, indeed, more distinct settings, landscapes and street-scapes) on the large sites and if the resulting variety matched appropriately the desires of the people wanting to live in each particular part of the country, then the overall absorption rates – and hence the overall build out rates – could be substantially accelerated; the outcome at which we should aim…is more variety within those sites.”
HTA said it “fully support this notion” and also sees the introduction of a National Expert Committee to advise local authorities on the interpretation of diversity requirements as a positive step. However increasing power to local authorities to designate large sites and lead on the masterplan and design code requirements for these sites will “need care” to avoid “stifling innovation” both in terms of design and delivery.
Simon Bayliss, managing partner of HTA Design, said: “Given recent positive signals from within Government acknowledging that housing numbers will rise only if design quality significantly increases, it is disappointing not to find any reference to the positive recommendations made in the Letwin Review of build-out rates published, presumably not by coincidence, on the same day.
“The review concludes that housing would be delivered more quickly if there were more ‘varying types, designs and tenures’, as well as ‘more distinct settings, landscape and street-scapes’, delivered by a more diverse group of developers and with greater oversight from local authorities.”
He added: “One might have hoped the budget would support this through increased investment in the planning system, reversing the vandalism of this valued institution over the past 8 years, rather than a thin promise to respond to the review in the new year at a time when one expects there may be other matters topping the political agenda.”