Let’s talk about home
The natural order is starting to be restored as lockdown begins to ease: construction sites are booming, traffic jams on the motorway, Gregg’s is reopen and the Government is talking about planning reform to address the housing shortage. Nature is truly healing.
But it was only 12 weeks ago that many were questioning what the future might look like for new houses in the post-Covid world, with questions being asked about the implications of long-term home working and the impact this might have.
So a recent report by the Design Council called A Public Vision for the Home of 2030 makes fascinating reading as we see new housing developments start to come forward again.
1. What people want from their homes in the future is informed by what they have now – but many of those things are missing in their current homes: people want a home that is easy to maintain, has low running costs and suits the way they live. But only 56% say that their current home ‘gets the basics right’ now.
2. There are some principles that are important to everyone when considering a home for the future: ‘being fit for purpose’ was important to at least 90% of English adults, closely followed by principles focused on the importance of a home located close to convenient travel options and with access to good quality private gardens or shared space.
3. But other priorities change with age: Young people (aged 18-34) value choice and freedom over their housing options. They want to be able to easily adapt or extend their home and are comfortable sharing spaces or facilities with neighbours. They also want to work from home and have control over what digital technology is in their home.Parents with families or caring responsibilities want to be able to contribute to the design of a new home, so it is suitable for multi-generational living with access to their own good quality garden.Whilst older adults (aged 55 and over) are looking for a home where everything works and is easy to maintain. Social contact is also important for this group with easy travel options.
4. There is some contrast between urban and rural living: People living in urban areas are more likely to value having a home that is easy to adapt and extend but that is also innovative and different to what people have seen before.
What does this mean?
The report offers those promoting new housing better insight into people’s preference for their home of the future and an opportunity to change the conversation with communities during the planning process.
It is clear from the research that not everyone needs the same thing from their home. So a one-size-fits-all approach to promoting a new development is likely to bypass some people who may be supportive. The move to more digital and virtual consultation provides an opportunity to target your messaging more accurately – focussing on the principles that are likely to be important to specific groups.
It also offers an opportunity to begin new conversations with communities that aren’t focused on housing numbers, traffic impacts, car parking spaces and impact on local services.
As the report states:
People’s lives are complex and there are many factors and trade-offs involved in where people choose to live. But this [report] offers new insight into people’s preferences to inform those who are involved in the process of designing and building homes…..As well as providing new insight into what people today imagine their future needs to be, these findings also provide an opportunity to identify new approaches to housing design that can work for residents in a changing world.