Homes England has backed new design guidance Building for a Healthy Life, which encourages healthier lifestyles to be incorporated into new housing developments.
Published by Design for Homes and Urban Design Doctor earlier this week, the design toolkit covers the priorities for creating healthier communities, including improved public transport links, reduced carbon emissions, and better air quality.
The guidance says masterplans should be based on an assessment of local health and care needs, with the creation of integrated neighbourhoods that feature ‘tenure neutral’ housing and well-defined public spaces.
The new guidance was commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement to update the widely used Building for Life 12 (B4L12), which Homes England requires developers to commit to as part of the tender process for purchasing land. Reserved matter planning applications must subsequently reflect the tender proposals.
Homes England has committed to using the new guidance in a similar way and is currently conducting a review of the impact on design quality of schemes that were procured under B4L12.
The new Building for a Healthy Life guidelines use the same 12-point structure, with examples of good practice that would earn a ‘green light’ and bad practice that would earn a ‘red light’.
However, the authors emphasise that the guidance is intended to prompt discussion – not to be used as a ‘tick-box system’.
Many local authorities include reference to the B4L12 in their local plans, and the new guidance is designed to enable them to easily update their plans.
The new guidelines are also consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
“Big step forward”
Sadie Morgan, director of architecture firm dRMM and board member of Homes England, said: “The new design guidance is a big step forward in supporting placemaking for healthier, more integrated communities where people want to live and spend time together.
“We know that the existing guidance has focused developers’ attention on high-quality design and these new guidelines will build on that success.
“People’s homes and neighbourhoods have a huge impact on their wellbeing and Homes England is committing to using these new guidelines to ensure that new developments encourage and enable better health.”
David Birkbeck of Design for Homes said: “Building for a Healthy Life works best as the starting point for getting developers, local authorities, communities and other stakeholders to agree on key aspects of a design, such as how new development will connect to existing communities and how people will be able move between the two.
“Its general focus has not changed significantly, other than to promote the idea of walking and cycling more short journeys.
“But the use of images helps explain the desire for outcomes and help everybody identify shared objectives.”
Dr Stefan Kruczkowski of Urban Design Doctor said: “Building for a Healthy Life is full of photographs.
“Everyone can see what good looks like and also what type of things we need to avoid when designing new places.”