Last edited 10 Dec 2020

Starter homes design

Starter homes exemplar.jpg

On 28 February 2015, the government announced a new Starter Homes initiative in England intended to give 100,000 first-time buyers under 40 a 20% discount on new homes. David Cameron then pledged that if the Conservative party won the next election, it would double that commitment, providing 200,000 starter homes.

To ensure the new homes are high quality, a new Design Advisory Panel was established including architects Sir Terry Farrell and Sir Quinlan Terry, philosopher Roger Scruton and representatives from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the Design Council and Create Streets.

On 27 March 2015, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published Starter homes design, an initial set of starter homes design exemplars put together by the Design Advisory Panel.

The exemplar projects are intended to show what good quality starter homes could look like. They include a range of schemes from across the country to provoke comment and discussion.

Minister for housing and planning Brandon Lewis said, ‘Good design should be the default approach to deliver good quality Starter Homes. Developers should work with local planning authorities to deliver the high quality design we all want to see for Starter Homes. The Panel’s exemplars show good design in a local context. Proposals should include visual material, similar in scope to that set out in this document, so that communities can see the quality of homes being offered. We hope that this publication will encourage debate and be a first step in developing an agreed design approach to delivering new, attractive Starter Homes and places that can meet the demands of modern life and stand the test of time.’

The documents does not pursue an initial proposal to create a set of standard templates as the default approach for designing starter homes. Lewis said, 'Starter Homes do not have to conform to these exemplars - that is not the purpose of this document. Where developers want to build something else, which is as good or better in design, and this is approved by local planning authorities, this is acceptable.'

Anna Scott-Marshall, Head of External Affairs at the RIBA said, 'The RIBA and partners who participate on the advisory panel made it clear that whilst the emphasis from the Government to ensure that the Starter Homes schemes were of a high quality design was welcome, a strict set of exemplars would not necessarily achieve that. We’re happy that our views have been taken on board and that the exemplars are just that, and should not inhibit design or innovation and importantly contemporary designs.'

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