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New Design Standards for (HCA) London. Julian Hart Design and Standards Manager. Background. HC. EP. GLA/LDA. Mayor’s Housing Strategy. Design Standards work by Design for London. HCA. New national standards. London Plan. HCA London. G LA. HCA (- London). London Housing Strategy.

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new design standards for hca london

New Design Standardsfor(HCA) London

Julian Hart

Design and Standards Manager





Mayor’s Housing Strategy

Design Standards work by Design for London


New national standards

London Plan

HCA London


HCA (- London)

london housing strategy
London Housing Strategy
  • The London Housing Strategy sets out the aspiration to create a consistent set of design standards applicable to all tenures of housing development, in order to
    • increase flexibility between housing tenures
    • ensure that all tenures of housing are built to sufficient space standards to be adaptable over the long-term
    • promote a level playing field between market and affordable housing
    • facilitate the planning process
design standards long term objective
Design Standards - Long-term objective


  • a consistent, simplified framework of design standards for all affordable / publicly funded housing across England, including London


  • a framework of design standards for all tenures of housing, which is ideally not inconsistent with the national requirements for affordable housing
  • to include additional design requirements which are pertinent to the higher density of development taking place in London

Process to achieve long-term objective complicated by London Plan Examination in Public process, devolution of HCA London to GLA and changing policies in Coalition administration.

hca london board decision
HCA London Board Decision

In July 2010, the HCA London Board decided that,

with effect from April 2011:

  • all new bids to seek funding allocation should meet with the standards set out in the London Housing Design Guide
  • bidders should seek to amend existing schemes to comply with these standards
  • where there are clear reasons why a scheme cannot comply, for example where an existing planning permission cannot be changed, then a bidder can apply to seek a waiver
  • priority will be given to bids that meet the new standards

From April 2012:

  • the new standards will be deemed mandatory for all funded development
  • waivers will only be given in exceptional circumstances
london housing design guide interpretation into funding standards
London Housing Design GuideInterpretation into Funding Standards

The London Housing Design Guide has been written in a planning context (now translated directly into draft Housing SPG). It has been necessary to interpret this into the funding context, where requirements must necessarily be more ‘black and white’.

Through close working between national HCA, HCA London, GLA and LDA, it has been possible to:

  • find a way to align the core London space standards with the proposed national space standards (on which there has been recent consultation)
  • rationalise the 73 requirements in the London Housing Design Guide down to 16 requirements, which can be supplemented onto the HCA national framework

Best place to get a copy of the design guide is on-line:

funding standards for london
Funding Standards for London

The new London DQS framework represents an extension of the national proposed HCA system by inclusion of those elements of the Mayor’s Design Guide which are not covered by the HCA system:

  • Internal – unit size, unit layout, ceiling height, storage and amenity provision
  • Sustainability – the Code for Sustainable Homes (Code Level 4)
  • External – Building for Life (minimum score of 14)
  • Building Configuration – 16 prescriptive items drawn from Mayor’s Housing Design Guide
transitional arrangements
Transitional Arrangements

HCA London will prepare a proforma excel spreadsheet, into which design information can be inputted, and this proforma will need to be submitted with Bidder Liaison Forms.

Over April 2011 to April 2012, assessment of design standards in London will have to operate off-line, in parallel with the IMS.


During 2011/2012 the core funding space standards will correlate with those that have been provided in INTERIM London Housing Design Guide.

From April 2012, the core space standards for the whole of London (embedded into new London Plan and final Design Guide) will hopefully be aligned with new national standards.

assessment process from april 2011
Assessment Process from April 2011

All schemes of any size

  • To be tested against new standards
  • Work underway to decide how this can be integrated / operate side-by-side with IMS and existing funding decision-making

Medium and Large Schemes

  • Looking to bring in greater scrutiny on Medium and Large Schemes to ensure that Building for Life assessments are properly done and, in the case of large developments, formally signed off and recorded

Tentative proposals:

Large Developments = anything that is assessed by GLA PDU (entire project >= 150 units) or >£5m

Medium Developments = all schemes within projects of >= 20 units or >=£2m funding

feedback quality audits from 2009 2010
FeedbackQuality Audits from 2009/2010

There is some really good housing being designed and built. But it is depressingly rare.

The main problem areas, which have been observed, were:

  • Urban Design. There is a concerning lack of understanding of the principles of urban design and what is really necessary to create a high quality urban environment.
  • Car domination and lack of amenity. Throughout London there has been a tendency to allow cars and car parking to dominate the ground plain of schemes, creating a gross lack of external amenity for residents.
  • Security Failures. In many larger developments we have observed a complete and systemic failure of the security systems.
  • Poor Quality. Some housing associations demonstrate a lack of attention to quality in procurement and construction, leading to high levels of defects and frequent failure of moving parts, such as electrical doors, gates and lifts.
  • Poor Social Mix. In several cases, there has been a failure to consider properly how developments should best be occupied, including inappropriate pepper-potting of tenants with predictably very different lifestyles and the blighting of new developments through boarded-up retail and commercial units at ground level.
hca london current initiatives to improve quality
HCA LondonCurrent Initiatives to improve Quality
  • Secured by Design
    • working with SBD to improved guidance
  • Good Homes Alliance / National Housing Federation
    • event on comfort and air quality in higher performance housing

(10th November)

  • LDA
    • retrofit activities
  • Urban Design London - networking and training
    • Housing Design Foundation

(24th and 28th September, next in Jan/Feb)

    • Up-coming New Housing Standards

(6th October)

    • Housing and Planning Network

(12th October)