My Department’s publication Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities (2007), for local authorities, sets out best practice for the use of all involved in the provision of housing, including architects, urban designers, engineers, planners, quantity surveyors, developers, practitioners and housing authorities.
The guidelines identify the principles and criteria that are important in the design of housing in order to facilitate the delivery of better homes, better neighbourhoods and better urban spaces.
The guidelines provide advice on site selection in areas with good access to a wide range of services including shops, schools and other facilities and without creating an overconcentration of a single tenure type. A range of key design priorities are emphasised in the guidelines including the need to ensure designs are socially, environmentally and architecturally appropriate, safe, secure and healthy; affordable; durable; and accessible and adaptable. Such themes are amplified in the later Design Manual for Urban Spaces (DMURS).
These design guidelines for local authorities seek to promote quality and value for money in publicly funded housing and seek to maintain this level of quality, including where other funding streams are fully or partially involved.
In relation to the guidelines, my Department is in regular contact with Local Authorities where design proposals for social housing developments are considered for consistency with the Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities guidelines and I am satisfied that the appropriate arrangements are in place.
In regard to the DMURS, this was jointly published by my Department and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in 2013 and was followed by a series of nationwide information seminars in early 2014 and 2015.
The purpose of this Manual is to ensure that the welfare and needs of pedestrians are prioritised in the design of streets in urban areas, so that roadways for cars don’t dominate our towns and cities. It also promotes short actively fronted movement systems to better facilitate and encourage pedestrian movement, and is fully consistent with our planning intentions to create more compact settlements.