As Eastleigh consults again on some changes to its draft local plan, research commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has revealed what people need and expect from their homes.
The research was carried out for RIBA by Ipsos/MORI between Sep 2011 and Feb 2012 and the report, entitled “The way we live now”, will be used as evidence by the Future Homes Commission, a national inquiry that is currently developing recommendations for how new homes should be designed and delivered in future. The terms of reference are clear that the commissioners are independent of RIBA and are not directed by RIBA, though RIBA are providing the secretariat for it.
But besides supporting the Future Homes Commission, RIBA are also running a campaign named Homewise, which aims to make sure that we build the right sort of homes in future.
And one page on the RIBA website, perhaps unwisely as it compromises the idea that the Commission is independent of RIBA, currently claims that “The Future Homes Commission was instigated by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) as part of its Homewise campaign”
Another report, on a website targeting the housebuilding community, currently refers to “RIBA announcing the launch of the Future Homes Commission”, raising another question mark perhaps over how independent that commission really is…?
Whatever the extent of RIBA’s involvement with the Future Homes Commission, RIBA have previously claimed publicly, in Sept 2011, that the output of many house-builders are “shameful shoebox homes…depriving households of the space they need to live comfortably and cohesively”.
And RIBA have previously produced another report, entitled “The case for space”, which claims that the average new home in England is only 92% of the recommended minimum size.
Their latest report, “The way we live now” report makes interesting reading. It reveals eight key features that people need and want from their homes;
- Long-term and short-term storage for functional items, and for personal possessions.
- Dedicated space for domestic utility tasks, such as vacuum cleaners, washing, drying and ironing clothes as well as storing rubbish and recycling.
- Large windows for natural light, large rooms and high ceilings.
- Large main living area.
- Layouts which take into account technology used within the home.
- Space for private time away from other members of the household
- Private space outside or access to green public space in urban locations.
- Options for different home layouts.
The report also shows some real world examples of how people struggle in modern homes;
A homeowner from Banbury, says;
“I don’t have anywhere to put the Hoover… we don’t use the bathroom toilet downstairs. It is mainly for guests and stuff. The Hoover stays in there.”
A first-time buyer from Manchester says;
“I’ve lived in a couple of city centre apartments, and they don’t tend to have storage space. You have your fitted wardrobe, I’ve got a cupboard under the stairs, and everything else is basically on show, so I’ve got to keep it tidy. I don’t even have anywhere to put my towels.”
A first-time buyer from Liverpool says;
“I buy like lots of stuff in Tesco … we just leave it in the car.”
Speaking about the Future Homes Commission and “The way we live now”, Harry Rich, RIBA Chief Executive said:
‘It has been over half a century since a government-tasked committee researched how households live, yet the size and designs of homes being built now are still defined by that great but out-of-date report, from a time when we had sewing boxes in our living rooms and indoor toilets needed regulating.
‘Until today there has been no evidence base that sets out how we are living now and what we want from our homes. This new research provides important evidence on which we can base some changes to the way our homes are designed, delivered, marketed and sold to us.’
The Chief Executive of Ipsos/MORI, Ben Page added:
‘The research graphically shows just how cramped and poorly planned much of our housing is today, and the extraordinary lengths people go to cope with it. RIBA is absolutely right to draw attention to it’
Meanwhile, back in Eastleigh, the changes to the local plan which are currently in a period of consultation include some changes to the sites that have previously (and controversially) been allocated for housing.
The consultation document says that the main reason this is necessary is that;
“Some developers are seeking lower residential densities and larger dwellings, which limits the number of dwellings that can be expected from the allocated sites.”
Which is entirely consistent with the aims of RIBA’s Homewise campaign, but as the number of new homes needed in Eastleigh has not been revised downwards, the ineveitable consequence is that even more land has been allocated for new housing…
The consultation period runs from 1st June until midday on 13th July 2012. Details on how to respond can be found on the Eastleigh Borough Council website.