CABE survey says that only 17% of homes are classified good or very good.

A CABE survey has branded four out of five new-build houses ‘mediocre’ in the first phase of Britain’s biggest ever housing audit. The audit, which was conducted in London, the South East and the East of England rated new homes according to design and suitability for the environment in which they were built.

CABE chief executive Richard Simmons said: “Many of the housebuilders in our audit have received awards for the quality of their best schemes. 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.“

Only 17% of homes surveyed were classified as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Auditors, who investigated 100 housing developments for the report, concluded that car parking and roads were given too much prominence by developers, and that more effort should be made to use local materials and designs to help create a sense of place and character.

The report criticised developers for stifling creativity by opting to follow “the path of least resistance” whenever conflicts arose with local council planning departments. Local councils themselves were accused of employing too few skilled planners, and of failing to give sufficient guidance on design and materials to developers.

With a million new homes planned for London and the South-east by 2016, CABE is concerned that the target quantity must not be met at the expense of quality.

John Slaughter, director if external affairs for the House Builders’ Federation said: “The glass is half full rather than half empty, but we recognise the challenge to do more. There is a need for all parties to work together to create a climate that facilitates good design and enables us to bring the customer with us.”

CABE has launched a new website,, to give people considering buying a new home information and advice.