Deputy prime minister John Prescott this week launched a quality benchmark for housing.
Drawn up by architecture watchdog CABE, it will be awarded to schemes by housebuilders and housing associations that show architectural flair and attention to the goals of sustainability.

Individual housing schemes will be assessed on criteria such as parking, pedestrianisation, design and construction, and environmental awareness. The benchmark will be known as the Building for Life Standard.

It has two categories – silver and gold. A silver standard will be awarded to schemes that fulfil 70% of the criteria. A gold scheme will need to fulfil 80% of the criteria and must demonstrate the highest standards of architecture and all-round sustainability.

This standard will help housebuyers identify new housing that lives up to our vision

Deputy prime minister John Prescott

Gold standards were this week awarded to Copthorn Homes and New Hall Projects for a project in Essex, Crest Nicholson for an estate in Kent and Sunley Homes for the Lacuna scheme, also in Kent.

Prescott launched the standard during a visit to the Essex scheme, a development of 82 homes in Harlow designed by Proctor & Matthews.