Why have Localis chosen to support the Healthy Homes Campaign?
The pandemic has shown how good quality housing is central to public health. Access to private outdoor space, green public open space, natural light, and good insulation, are all things that have been vital to our mental and physical health.
The frequent lockdowns during the last two years shone a light on the stark inequality between those who have access to these amenities and those who do not. Last year, Localis published ‘Building Communities’ which looked at what is required for a housing led recovery to COVID-19 that betters everyone’s lives.
In it we argued that such a recovery, which should deliver for communities, must focus on designing housing and social infrastructure that harnesses the aesthetic and health benefits of the natural environment. Additionally, that developments must ensure higher environmental, public health, and social standards. The state has a greater role to play in enabling these standards to be met in development. Doing this will require a unifying framework that development can be held up against, which government should champion.
To this end, Localis has backed the Healthy Homes Principles advanced by the TCPA. This consists of eleven connected principles that include:
- having access to natural light in main living areas and bedrooms;
- securing radical reductions in carbon emissions that are in line with the Climate Change Act 2008;
- being free from unacceptable and intrusive noise and light pollution;
- being safe from the risk of fire;
- designed to be inclusive, accessible, and adaptable;
- demonstrating how they will be resilient to the changing climate over its lifespan;
- not contributing to unsafe and illegal levels of indoor air pollution;
- having, as a minimum, liveable space required to meet the needs of people over their whole life time;
- being built in a way that prioritises active travel;
- being built to design out crime;
- providing year-round thermal comfort.
Once introduced in law, these principles would set high standards from the top, cut across all pillars governing housing and planning, and allow for them to be incorporated across different spheres. Including building regulations, the national planning framework, prior approval, and local planning requirements to name a few.
Now, a unique opportunity presents itself through the Building Safety Bill. The objective of this Bill is to “make provision about the safety of people in or about buildings”. It’s primary focus has been on tall buildings at risk of fire. However, there are a number of public and environmental health related concerns that are not addressed within the Bill as it currently stands. That is why the TCPA has been campaigning for a simple amendment to the Bill to address these issues and strengthen it through incorporating the Healthy Homes Principles.
In addition to this, there is a local campaign aimed at working with councils and communities to explore different ways the ‘healthy homes principles’ can be used as a framework for improving the quality of new developments in their area
Ensuring these principles are embedded in law will be a significant step forward in a community focused housing led recovery that delivers for localities across the country. This is why Localis has lent its support for the Healthy Homes Campaign.
To read Localis’ report ‘Building Communities’ click here
Zayn Qureshi is senior researcher at Localis