More Than Shelter

Fri 11 Jan 2019
Issue 15 cover image

‘We need to not just chalk up units in annual stats.’Charity demands 3 million new high-quality social homes by 2040.

Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness. The final report of their commission, Vision for Social Housing, shows the three million new homes it proposes is costing £10.7bn a year, but says two-thirds of this would be clawed back through housing benefit savings and extra tax revenue. The report refers to a shift in mainstream thinking fuelled by the Grenfell tragedy. It contributes to the growing consensus for a renaissance in council housebuilding, already supported by Government lifting the cap on council borrowing. (May Lifts the Cap).

What does it mean for design and planning?
Reflecting the commissioners’ diversity, Grenfell United’s Edward Daffarn joined George Clarke, Doreen Lawrence, Ed Milliband and many others in the Vision for Social Housing commission. The commission makes wide ranging recommendations to solve practical problems experienced by social housing tenants and insists on mixed communities in thriving places.

Government should set a standard to ensure investment in maintaining and improving homes and neighbourhoods over their full lifetime.

The report recognises the benefits of using offsite construction, not least the reduced environmental impact, but acknowledges past problems that led to the Ronan Point collapse.

Government should embrace modern methods of construction in a way that reduces risk and builds public confidence, using methods that are proven to work over the long-term.

Recommendations cover important ground, for example, it suggests Government acts through the planning system or follows conditions on grants to prevent the building of ‘poor doors’ – the separation of entrances for private and social housing tenants. Other recommendations include offering long-term maintenance solutions, addressing public realm design and highlighting the importance of external spaces and play areas.

Challenging on numbers and tenure, Shelter’s recommendations for design are thoughtful while being tough and pragmatic on land valuation, Right to Buy and Section 106. A Vision for Social Housing deserves to be translated into action.

Cover image: Huffington Post

Until next week. Please make sure to send in your ideas to
Author: Jane Briginshaw, Design England

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