Many large strategic sites are being planned and delivered either through or with reference to the garden communities and/or healthy new towns programmes. These demonstrate shared common themes of creating great places and spaces for people to live, work and enjoy their lives alongside and without harm to the natural environment. The roles of the master developer and patient capital invested for the long-term returns are particularly attracting more attention in the sector. The creation of social value is coming up the agenda; ESG is at the top of many “to do” lists.
Planners and consumers are increasingly focussed on good design. One of the drivers to this are recent changes to the National Planning Policy Framework following recommendations from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. And we now have a new National Model Design Code. The emphasis is on making beautiful places, designed at a local level.
Sustainability in buildings is set to improve significantly. Innovations through modern methods of construction continue, with the advent of more green energy and a phasing out of gas boilers. We are seeing an emphasis on walkable neighbourhoods in new developments, supported by sustainable transport options. Housing must be integrated with infrastructure designed for electric and, in due course, autonomous vehicles.
Access to green spaces is acknowledged as vital for physical and mental wellbeing. Creating these in new housing developments provides opportunities for environmental enhancements. Bio-diversity net gain is no longer an option. It is essential that development provides as well for nature and the environment as it does for people, protecting water supplies and mitigating flood risk. These spaces and places add social value to development. They also require careful stewardship for the long-term, which needs to be provided in a sustainable way.
We are already seeing changes to ground rents and an end to the sale of leasehold houses. We have yet to see legislation that gives freeholders paying service charges getting rights like those enjoyed by leaseholders. When it comes, we can expect new regulations which will include requirements for consultation on charges and also give homeowners rights to challenge the reasonableness of charges.
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