It’s been almost fifty years since we last saw large-scale ‘council-built housing’. From the 70’s this role effectively passed to housing associations, but following changes to borrowing restrictions, many local authorities are building again.
Some of the London boroughs have been quickest off the mark. As the ultimate custodians of place, and with a duty to house those in need, councils understand the value of longevity and the importance of quality.
The London Borough of Enfield is among the first to embrace this new opportunity and, in common with others, their focus is the provision of affordable housing – particularly social rent. The current officers haven’t been clients before and recognised the need to have reliable project briefs that respond directly to the priorities of residents, as well as the objectives of the council’s Business Plan. Together with Enfield Homes (their ALMO), they manage and maintain a huge amount of housing stock, and own large areas of land. Their new developments will range from small infill garage sites to complete estate regeneration.
After a competitive process, we were appointed along with Sweett Group to produce a set of generic, cost-checked, design and technical performance standards; underpinned by a set of overarching principles. The final suite of three documents was the product of a collaborative and rewarding process; based on a series of themed workshops.