Two thirds of adults agree, design matters in new homes

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By a margin of more than four to one the British public say that in principle they support the building of local new homes in the future on brownfield land, but levels of support vary sharply according to the potential design of those homes.

Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,000 adults aged 15+ across Britain, face-to-face, in-home between 15-31 May 2015.Respondents were shown “five different types of new housing” and asked to spend a minute looking at them as a group. (See above slider)


They were then asked by Ipsos MORI interviewers to “imagine that each one contains 10 new units, or homes, for people to live in. Based on the designs that you can see, I am going to ask you whether, in principle, you would support or oppose the building of 10 such new homes in your local area on brownfield land – that is land that has been built on previously.”

The order of the images shown individually was randomised. Respondents were presented the types of housing as images – these were not labelled, nor described in any way.

Images were sourced by Create Streets with the intention of minimising variation in weather conditions, street furniture, trees and landscape, parked cars and building elevations/aspects (although we cannot rule out these factors having had some impact on responses).

The respondents were then asked if they would support or oppose the building of 10 similar style homes in their local area.

While some types commanded strong support – particularly the most conventional in form, style and building materials – others fared less well. Around three-quarters said they would support homes similar to those presented as type C (Poundbury) and type A (Derwenthorpe) – 75% and 73% respectively – while support was far lower for traditional-looking developments – 23% (type B) and 34% (type E).

Analysis of the results highlights a few interesting points:


  • There is majority support for ‘brownfield’ development

Just under two-thirds (64%) of British adults support construction on their local sites, whereas only 14% are opposed to it.

  • Design matters in people’s support for building on brownfield land

More than three times as many respondents are prepared to support the building of new homes on brownfield land near where they live for the most popular type of housing compared to the least popular type – 75% vs. 23%.

  • Unpopular building styles can sharply decrease support for building more homes

Among the 64% of people who support the development of local brownfield sites in principle, 61% of people do not support the building of the least popular design type. Vice versa, of the 14% opposed to the development of local brownfield sites, 51% are prepared to support the most popular building design type.

  • The most popular building type would appear to be the most conventional form, style and building materials

Both renters and those living in London are more favourable towards the less traditional-looking developments. These are, by contrast, less likely to attract support among older age groups and owner-occupiers. Preference for traditional styling is evident in all regions and demographics.


In Summary

It appears that when it comes to the style-over-substance debate, a delicate balance needs to be met somewhere in the middle if housing providers are to successfully gain the trust and support of local communities. The current government has identified enough formerly used, surplus public sector land to support up to 100,000 new homes and are looking to sell this quickly to help get Britain building. The question is “will Britain get behind these ambitious plans?” Through inclusive design, it is quite possible that we will.

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