Why it’s time developers woke up to the Extinction Rebellion generation

Brilliant by Design: Building Better Homes – BECG Roundtable


“Movements like Extinction Rebellion will revolutionise the way young people buy homes in the future, and it’s time Britain’s housebuilders prepared for it.”

That was the stark message Wayne Hemingway MBE, one of the country’s most eminent designers, had for our recent roundtable of housing experts.

Britain’s high streets have already been transformed by the way people buy products in 2019, Hemingway said, and the housing market will be next in line.

“You only have to look at the huge popularity of Extinction Rebellion and filmmakers like Stacey Dooley to see how ‘anti-mass consumerism‘ is incredibly popular with young people”.

It’s hard to deny. Young people are moving away from single-use plastics, meat consumption and polluting transport in their droves. The message is clear, more consumers than ever before want to see sustainable and reusable materials in their products.

Fewer consumers now want to buy standardised, mass-produced products from large chain stores like Debenhams, Maplin or BHS. Instead, they want locally sourced, personalised products from smaller stores with an environmental conscience.

Firms like Planet Organic, Innocent Drinks and independent coffee shops have completely changed Britain’s high streets in recent years, and Wayne thinks it’s “just a matter of how, not when” this change will revolutionise the housing industry.

There are already some excellent examples of major developers beginning to act in more sustainable ways, using low-carbon methods and materials to make homes.

The Extinction Rebellion generation demand more, though. And fast.

If young first time buyers are expected to pay over £230,000 – the average UK house price – for their first home, the very least they will expect is a well-designed, sustainable home, that is not just another faceless house in a block of developments.

“We should be past the point of thinking about carbon zero”, Mr Hemingway said, “It should be a fundamental part of everything we do as an industry”.

The environmental theme continued as Andy Von Bradsky, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government Architecture Advisor, introduced the National Design Guide at the roundtable.

The Guide is the very first “blueprint for how local authorities can achieve quality and great design”, and is set to play an increasingly important role in how Local Authorities judge the quality of new developments.

Embedding good design, modern environmental practices and very close consultation with politicians and communities is a good start for developers – but there is a way to go yet.

When you put the new Design Guide against the increasing demands of the Extinction Rebellion generation, one thing is certain: the way people want to see new homes built is changing rapidly.

BECG has extensive experience supporting well designed schemes residential, commercial, infrastructure and energy schemes across the country. To find out more about the services we offer contact Krystian Groom.