building for Life 12 is a tool for assessing the design quality of homes and neighbourhoods in England. It is included in the new National Planning Policy Framework and responds to the Government’s commitment to build more homes, better homes and involve local communities in planning .
The questions are designed to help structure discussions between local communities, local planning authorities, developers and other stakeholders about proposed housing development.
Why should civic societies and community groups care about this?
Paragraph 129 of the National Planning Policy Framework states ‘Local planning authorities should ensure that they have access to, and make appropriate use of, tools and processes for assessing and improving the design of development. These include workshops to engage the local community, design advice and review arrangements, and assessment frameworks such as Building for Life’
If this is a tool that local authorities are being encouraged to use, Civic Voice’s Regional Forum believes it is important that civic societies gain a greater understanding of this too!
Do any other civic societies use this?
In a word, yes!
‘We feel that doing a formal assessment adds weight to our comments, being seen to be more than a collection of comments from a few (biased) individuals. It also leads us in a structured way to ask questions that we might not otherwise have thought of. We also keep a record so it’s easy if challenged to demonstrate where a comment came from.’
Phil Campbell, Cockermouth Civic Trust
BfL12 is also designed to help local planning authorities assess the quality of proposed and completed developments; it can be used for site-specific briefs and can also help to structure design codes and local design policies.
‘Effective local plan policies and/or masterplans, plus a capable housebuilder can deliver good design on every single site, especially if BfL12 is deployed effectively.’
Philip Barnes, Barratts Group Land & Planning Director
If you want a Civic Voice representative to visit your civic society to discuss Building for Life, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.