The GHA defines good homes as: environmentally and socially responsible, low energy, performance compliant, future proofed for climate change and healthy for occupants. It was established in 2007 and is based in Islington, London.
Since it was formed some great examples of sustainable quality homes have been built, mainly by independent developers some of whom are GHA members but they only represent a tiny percentage of all new homes built. Government policy had also been moving more towards sustainability and higher quality standards helped along by successive Labour and then the Coalition Government, however, this all changed when the Tory Government was elected in May 2015 and is now under further threat after the vote to leave the EU.
The Tories were the death knell for environmental matters in general but delivering housing at a quantity level completely displaced the quality argument, with the abolition of zero carbon building regulations (which took 10 years to be put in place), the Code for Sustainable Homes and a general relaxation of planning policy standards to facilitate an increase in the number of homes being built. The changes could be seen as reason to give up trying to achieve higher housing standards but it actually represents the opposite for the GHA and its members.
Whilst the policy and EU exit let downs are related mainly to energy and carbon emissions, it is also the case that other factors including occupant health, such as overheating and poor ventilation issues and internal space standards are not being addressed at a Government policy level. These issues are being left to other non Government organisations to deal with, such as the GHA, UK Green Building Council, Royal Institute of British Architects and the NHS. Furthermore, the body of research on problems relating to buildings and our health grows by the month.
Despite this rather depressing situation, there is definitely an upside and activity to promote what the GHA consider to be good homes continues.
Most recently, GHA hosted ‘Future of Sustainable Housing’, introduced by Lynne Sullivan OBE and Mike Roberts of HAB Housing. The event brought together some of the leading thinkers in sustainable housing development to identify and debate the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. With changing Government policies, COP21 and UK Plan Carbon commitments, events like these give the industry the chance to share their ideas and look at ways to ensure that the Government is held accountable for ensuring that these responsibilities are met, and not ignored.
The GHA passionately believes that the house building industry can do much better and produce more sustainable good quality homes, it continues to promote knowledge and learning in the sector and is actively developing standards, educational events, promoting exemplars and collaborating with partners to help achieve this aim.
If you are committed to more sustainable higher quality housing in the UK please think about joining the GHA so you can be part of the debate and hopefully part of the solution to providing good homes.
Julian Brooks, Network and Programme Manager, Good Homes Alliance
The Good Homes Alliance is a membership organisation that promotes learning, knowledge and collaboration to increase the number of “good homes” being built. It offers an alternative vision of new housing rather than the identikit minimum standard homes produced by almost all of the major house builders. It currently has in excess of 75 members who collectively represent nearly all aspects of the house building sector including: Architects, Building Societies, Charitable Trusts, Consultants, Constructors, Developers, Housing Associations, Local Authorities, Manufacturers & Suppliers, Trade Bodies, Universities and Urban Planners.