Ten years on, it’s clear that the original HAPPI report is among the handful of the policy-led documents produced over the last decade that have really made a difference. Jointly commissioned in 2009 by the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government, and project-managed by the Homes and Communities, it was one of the final legacies of the last Labour Government.
Working with Pollard Thomas Edwards and Design for Homes, we scoured northern Europe for something other than the tired sheltered housing and the rather staid, institutional Extra Care developments which seemed to be the limit of the UK’s imagination. We returned exhausted but triumphant. The wide range of contemporary developments we saw (admittedly not ubiquitous) were places we could all imaging living in.
In his inimitable way, Lord Best helped us to distil hours of interviews with our hosts and our panel members to four simple chapter headings and ten HAPPI design principles – we just had to write it! Despite the tight deadline, it came together. It’s now cited in planning policy, and the basis of all our clients briefs. But more importantly, it’s transformed the way we think about the design of housing for older people.
Click here to read more of my reflections on the HAPPI report in a blog post for the Housing LIN.