Housebuilders won’t have to meet additional design standards to benefit from £400m government fund

Private sector developments set to benefit from the £400m Get Britain Building fund announced this week will have to meet no additional design quality standards to qualify for government funding.

The scheme is effectively a re-run of the previous government’s £715m Kickstart scheme, designed to restart building work on stalled residential developments, for which funding recipients had to achieve minimum scores under Cabe’s Building for Life criteria.

Communities minister Andrew Stunell this week confirmed that developers will not be subject to additional checks on the quality of the developments beyond meeting local and national planning and building regulation requirements.

This is despite the fact that housing minister Grant Shapps was highly critical of Labour’s Kickstart policy when it emerged that not all of the schemes funded had met the Building for Life criteria. In 2009 Shapps said: “Either ministers care about the design quality of new homes or they don’t. There’s precious little point in wasting taxpayers’ money carrying out studies if they’re simply going to ignore the findings.”

Opposition politicians, who are also unhappy the £400m programme will prioritise private housing above affordable homes, criticised the stance. Jack Dromey, shadow housing minister, said: “There must be no return to the ‘build anything’ days of prefab Britain. New homes should be decent homes designed to high standards where people want to live.”
Stunell said the policy was “absolutely not about getting quantity at the expense of quality”.

The news came as figures emerged showing housing starts have fallen by 97% in the last six months, following the halving of social housing funding in the Comprehensive Spending Review.