The recent problems with the Homes and Communities Agency’s Kickstart programme highlight an uncomfortable truth: many of the new homes being built in the UK aren’t good enough
The RIBA supports the Kickstart programme, as a way of addressing housing need and as a means of providing recession respite. However, we are unequivocal in our belief that poor quality housing should not gain public subsidy, and indeed should not be built at all. The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) must not compromise when fulfilling its statutory duty to promote good design, and must act in the long-term interests of the taxpayers it serves.
Clearly, however, this is an issue that goes far beyond Kickstart and the HCA. There are many deep-rooted, systemic problems that affect the quality of new developments: too little competition in the industry and consumer choice, an overburdened planning system and a housebuilding model that wrongly encourages short-term profit maximisation on land values.
It is clear that we need new approaches to housing delivery; the public sector needs to have the confidence and conviction to insist on high standards and ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.
Ruth Reed, president, RIBA