7. Design of Homes and Housing


  • Although rates are improving, 20% of homes in England were still deemed non-decent in 2016.
  • Poor housing conditions exacerbates health conditions including respiratory illness, asthma and mental health conditions especially in our
    most vulnerable groups – older people and children.
  • BRE in 2015 estimated that poor housing costs the NHS as much as the impact from smoking or alcohol.
  • Poor health related to home design and housing stems can be categorised through homes being unhealthy, unstable and/or unsuitable homes.
  • An example of this is that 93% of homes lack access features that support people with limited mobility.
  • In February 2018, a national memorandum of understanding between multiple signatories including NHS, Local Government Association, Homes England, the Department of Health and Social Care and the Association of the Directors of Public Health was signed on how to improve health and care through homes. This gives clear direction that collaboration is required to improved health and housing.

How to encourage and improve homes and housing;

  • The Essex Design Guide has a several key themes around health and wellbeing. These should be considered when designing homes and
    open spaces. The guide includes active design principles, ageing, health and wellbeing, digital/smart technology and garden communities’
    principles. It supports building regulations part M4 category 2 for all developments.
  • Think about how homes can be adapted for use over the lifetime. Can homes be made to adaptable and accessible?
  • Affordability and home ownership is a major issue. Ensure an awareness of affordable homes requirements. Promote the various home ownership models that are available.
  • Intergenerational living is important. Consider the ways in which different housing mix is designed to ensure that residents can mix and how new and existing houses will mix to ensure communities mix and support social interactions.
  • When designing homes and spaces for older people, the Independent Living Design Guidance from Essex County Council highlights key considerations such as housing design, communal space access, parking, transport, environmental considerations and smart technology for supporting independent living. These standards are for people of 55 years plus.
  • The national planning policy framework 2018 highlights Building for Life 12. This guide provides additional information on design standards, what to consider including in developments and what to avoid.
  • Lifetime neighbourhoods published in 2011 provides guidance and advice on how to support neighbourhoods to be inclusive and accessible
    across people’s lives. This is a useful source and is referenced by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) as part of their up-dated Garden Community principles.
  • The NHS has been involved in supporting 10 ‘Healthy New Town’ sites across England. Guidance on their findings is due for publication by the TCPA in early 2019. Pre-guidance has been released.

Page updated: 8/10/2019

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