Making NDSS Compulsory Requires a Standard Minimum Plot Width to encourage MMC

One para in the PMs speech yesterday stuck out

It will be up to my successor in Downing Street to deal with this.

But I believe the next government should be bold enough to ensure the Nationally Described Space Standard applies to all new homes.

As a mandatory regulation, space standards would become universal and unavoidable.

That would mean an end to the postcode lottery for buyers and tenants.

And an end to the era of too-small homes that keep the housing numbers ticking over, but are barely fit for modern family life.

I reject the argument that such a change will make building less likely.

In fact it will have the opposite effect – a more strictly applied minimum would remove the commercial disincentive to develop sites in areas with stricter standards.

And by providing a clear and uniform national standard it will increase the possibilities for the kind of off-site manufacturing we see being pioneered here in the Northern Powerhouse.

Imagine you are doing a continental style zoning plan as beloved of Oliver Letwin followed by a subdivision plan and sale of parcels to developers.  That would work on the continent but not in the UK.

Why?  because volume housebuilders that use timber frame and MMC or any kind of standard house types all have standard units. they vary from company to company in width, if only by mms.  So the first thing they all do in appraising a site is calculate how many of there units they can fit in. In many cases a race to the bottom.

Historically it wasnt like this.  A traditional town terrace home was 1 rod plot width.  A yeomans home facing a village street was 2 rods wide and narrower in plan.  A formula which helped great so any great places.  A rod by the way is 5 12 yards or approximately 5. metres.  Lets make the metric rod (5m) the minimum width for a home or 6.1 where its parking space is parallel to and overlooked by the house.  A near square plot of 12.2m width by 12-15m depth is also an extremely efficient development form replacing long narrow gardens which are hard to maintain by much more functional courtyards. (see Hams Hall for example of this typology)

By standardising minimum plot widths and replacing them with some design code based flexible typologies the power of maseterplanning can be returned to the master developer or local authority.  Mass housebuilders simply them can slot in there housetypes into the preset layout and only apply for the elevational appearance reserved matter.


Uttlesford to Decide Today whether to Scrap Local Plan

Dunmow Broadcast

The future of Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) local plan could be decided today (Thursday), as the controlling party is expected to confirm whether it supports the plan or intends to scrap it.

However, planning inspectors wrote to UDC on June 11 ahead of public hearings which will examine the plan, asking for clarity on Residents for Uttlesford’s (R4U) stance.

Before taking control of the council from the Conservatives in May, R4U repeatedly raised significant concerns about the plan.

Planning inspectors Louise Crosby and Elaine Worthington said: “At the start of the first hearing session, we will ask the council whether it continues to think that it has submitted a plan which is sound and ready for examination and therefore, whether it still supports it. Alternatively, if the council no longer supports key aspects of the plan it has submitted, the appropriate action would be to consider withdrawing that plan from examination.”

Now, action group Stop Easton Park, which opposes plans for thousands of new homes near Dunmow included in the local plan, has urged the council to withdraw the document.

In a letter to councillors, the action group said: “In our view, the plan submitted by the previous administration is inherently flawed both in the sustainability appraisal that underlies it and in the plan itself and hence runs a high risk of failure at examination. Surely, it is better for UDC to temporarily withdraw the plan and address its shortcomings rather than have to start again in some months’ time and risk losing control to developers and central Government. We urge you to withdraw the plan to allow time for considered and lateral thought outside the confines of the ‘tunnel-vision’ of the previous administration.”

R4U told the Broadcast that it had not yet responded to the inspectors’ letter and councillors were still working through issues.

On June 13, an R4U spokesman said that councillors were “seeking advice from officers and legal experts on the plan and the best way protect Uttlesford from the developer-free-for-all that has been going on for a decade”.