Tory pledge to build 200,000 ‘starter’ homes alarms UK architects

The Conservative party has pledged to build 200,000 starter homes if it wins the UK general election in May. However, two members of the government’s housing advisory panel have warned against the construction of "generic" properties. 

Stephen Hodder, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and Noel Farrer, the president of the Landscape Institute, said in a joint statement that the new homes may not fit well within UK cities.  

They added that Britain’s present housing crisis, which was exacerbated by the hibernation of the housebuilding industry during the recession, must not lead to "sub-standard" home construction. 

The statement said: "The use of national ‘design templates’ for starter homes could result in generic properties that don’t fit into the area in which they’re being built. This will make it much harder to gain the support of existing and future residents. 

"As members of the design advisory panel we will be urging the government carefully to balance the desire for fast and low-cost delivery with the need for sustainable development and high quality contextual design." 

There are also concerns about the lack of green infrastructure around the developments. 

First-time buyers in the UK can register to buy new homes with a 20% discount, if they are under 40. Homes will be built on brownfield sites. 

Announcing the policy, David Cameron, the prime minister of the UK, said: "There are young people in their 20s and 30s still living with their parents, desperately saving for their own place. There are couples who want a child but can’t afford to upsize – even though they’ve both got full-on, full-time jobs. It shouldn’t be this way. 

"Our goal is a Britain where everyone who works hard can have a home of their own." 

The number of homeowners in the UK aged 25-34 has fallen from 59% in 2004 to 36% in 2014. 

Photograph: David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative party (Wikimedia Commons)

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