Richard Rogers has hit out at the government’s plans to abolish the requirement to build homes at a minimum density, saying they would “fundamentally damage” the prospects of sustainable development

Rogers, who is credited with prompting the move towards higher density housing after his Urban Task Force report to then deputy prime minister John Prescott in 1999, said the move would lead to the creation of car-based neighbourhoods.

Earlier this month, the government announced that planning guidance that set a minimum housing density of 30 homes per hectare, would be abolished alongside guidance classifying gardens as brownfield land fit for development. Launching the change, housing minister Grant Shapps said the current system had resulted in developers building small executive flats, when the greatest need is often for family homes.

A compact city based on public transport is the way to create a sustainable place

Richard Rogers

However, many promoters of green development say a minimum density is essential to make public transport viable, as well as reducing the land take required to meet housing need.

Rogers said: “Density targets are at the basis of sustainable development, with a compact city based on public transport the way to create sustainable places. Lowering the density would fundamentally damage everything we’ve been trying to do in that area.”

Rogers also responded to criticism that the Labour’s density requirements, contained in PPS3 planning guidance, have resulted in the construction of far too many high rise flats without gardens. He said: “Clearly the designs [under PPS3] could have been better. But single family homes can be built easily at 50-70 homes per hectare, for example the regency houses that everybody loves.”