MP calls for ban on poorly designed housing schemes

"Soulless rabbit hutches" must be eradicated from housing plans if the UK is to meet climate change challenges and create healthy communities, government minister Iain Wright has warned.

Wright put his head above the parapet in pledging support for good design as part of the 2020 target of three million new homes. The parliamentary under-secretary of state for communities and local government stressed the need for quality green infrastructure as a crucial element of new housing at the Landscape Institute's annual conference last week.

"I want to see more houses being built but I want to see them built in a properly planned way with the right infrastructure, such as public spaces and parks integrated from the beginning," said Wright.

"This should not be an afterthought; it should underpin the entire process," he said. "Get it wrong with poor planning and we get identikit rabbit hutches; bad design has a profound impact on the whole community."

The launch of the Homes & Communities Agency on 1 December, bringing together responsibility for land and money to deliver new housing, community facilities and new infrastructure, will be an ideal vehicle for transforming regeneration, added Wright.

"There's a huge opportunity here to sweep away some unnecessary bureaucracy," he said. "We can't really say we'll get it right next time. We are talking about people's lives and opportunities, about helping to shape ambitions and aspirations."

Wright said that developing skills in the sector, through organisations such as CABE Space and the Landscape Institute's I Want to be a Landscape Architect campaign, was crucial to the success of creating sustainable communities.

"One of the big challenges is skills and there's a real shortfall of landscape architects entering the profession," he said. "It is massively important we address this as there won't be people on the ground to put the vision into practice."

"By supporting and developing the skills of everyone involved we can continually build upon the way we create homes and public spaces," he said.

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