Up, not out.
This is the resounding message sent out by the UK Government to the public, to the professionals, and to the future of the built fabric.
With a list of requirements these new laws are not as simple as your average Loft Conversion or 3m Rear Extension, they require a little more elbow grease – and not just from the Architects. Structural Engineer consultation and Reports, Sunlight/Daylight Calculations, Air Traffic approval, Views, Highways, Noise tests, Construction Plans, and more may be required to get the developments, pardon the pun, off the ground – all that plus finished construction in under 3 years.
The new laws have been met with scathing criticism. Vehemently opposed by many big names, the RIBA itself being one of the first to express their distaste for the move.
But could this not be an opportunity? For growth, for better access to housing, for new and innovative approaches to the existing built fabric?
It is clear what could happen if left unchecked – but that’s not how the legislation reads. We are not going to get pine-clad monstrosities atop Grade-I listed cottages, Victorian townhouses must not fear for their roofs undergoing a glass box metamorphosis, and Tudor highstreets need not panic in anticipation of zinc mansards.
The housing stock at the mercy of this new legislation focuses on the years between 1948-2018. The Post-war Housing which many bemoan for its cookie-cutter estate nature, low quality design, and limited flexibility. At the risk of sounding naïve, these steps could change the way that housing stock is looked at – for the better.