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Home Quality Mark – Our Surroundings

Is this a bridge too far? We strongly support and applaud all efforts towards green building. At the same time we need to understand the constructor’s and  our client’s, needs and objections so that we can help them overcome any unfounded fear of sustainability fuelled by fear of spending money that won’t be seen in the return on the investment. So, at EAL we are asking ourselves and you the following question:

Are the issues below, part of the considerations for the new BRE Quality Home Mark, still really relevant or are they a repetition of what has already been dealt with at the planning stages and by building control sign off? What do you think?

BRE explains…This section [Home Quality Mark – Our Surroundings], rewards homes built to work with their surroundings and that their surrounds may be like with changing population and climate to maximise benefits and minimise impacts now and into the future.

Site Context

Site survey

It is important that where a home is built is carefully considered, understanding the opportunities and constraints that will affect the way your home meets your needs now and in the future. The Home Quality Mark will primarily focus on making sure there is an awareness of:

  • The condition of the land, including contamination, flood risk, security, privacy and nuisance
  • Infrastructure including water and electrical supplies
  • Drainage and sewage arrangements

Design and character

The look and feel of your home is an important factor when you’re looking for a new home. A new home should also complement the existing area, taking into account local character whilst creating an attractive design that adds to the overall quality and character of the area. The Home Quality Mark will give recognition for:

  • Engaging with the community and other local bodies

Building footprint and layout

The design and layout of your home should meet your space needs whilst effectively using the space available. This can be achieved through the efficient use of your home’s footprint and orientation and the careful arrangement of buildings within a plot or in a community. The Home Quality Mark will encourage this by:

  • Rewarding the efficient use of a home’s footprint, maximising quality external space for occupants without compromising internal space

Service provisions

In order to meet the demands of modern life, your home should have sufficient access to digital infrastructure, allowing you to work from home and reduce your travel burden and provide a basis to support the changing demands of everyday life. We want to ensure that you have:

  • Access to secure and fast internet supplies
  • Access to support and enable efficient and easy maintenance of key utilities

Movement and Connectivity

Transport Provision

The balance between access to bus and rail services alongside the provision of cycling facilities and the provision of adequate parking for your home, will ensure a range of options that are sustainable for your community and location. The Home Quality Mark will encourage the provision of these facilities by:

  • Rewarding the accessibility of good public transport connections
  • Encouraging the provision of adequate and safe cycling and pedestrian facilities
  • Encourage the provision of car parking/electric charging and or sharing facilities appropriate

Local amenities

It is important that any homeowner is familiar with how their home works, what its capabilities are and has an understanding of the surrounding community. To support you in your new home the Home Quality Mark will outline means of sharing relevant information, including:

  • Intuitive ways to provide information on how your home operates
  • Supporting services from developer, promoting an interactive service that gives you a practical understanding and support in the operation of your home.

Safety and Resilience

Resilience to flooding

Flooding affects your insurance premiums and can cause devastations and long term upheaval for individuals and families if it does occur. The Home Quality Mark will seek to clarify these risks and ensure homeowners can fully understand the implications of their homes locations. To do this the Home Quality Mark will set out requirements for:

  • Understanding the flood risk for all homes being developed
  • Rewarding homes located in low flood risk areas
  • Where homes cannot be located away from the risk of flooding, rewarding additional design measures to minimise and control the risks and potential disturbance

Reducing the likelihood of flooding on others

Unfortunately the development of new homes can increase the flood risks on land around us, our neighbours, the drainage system and our natural water courses. We need to ensure that any new home doesn’t increase risks through changing the away water drains away. To do this the Home Quality Mark will encourage design choices and systems that:

  • Reduce the amount/rate of rainwater running from our homes or site that could cause local flooding
  • Use the natural environment to deal with rainfall wherever possible and integrate this into the landscape to create an attractive environment
  • Avoid the danger of creating possible pollution through water runoff from development areas

Safety and security

TheHome Quality Mark will promote the design of safe and secure homes and communities by:

  • Taking into account the relationship of your home to your street and other open areas
  • Providing adequate internal and external lighting that does not create hiding places
  • Making sure public spaces and footpaths are overlooked and are designed to reduce insecure and unusable places

Outdoors

Recreation space

Providing the adequate space for recreation or other activities that encourage outdoor activity including exercise, relaxation and even the growing of food helps to promote more sustainable, active and healthier lifestyle. Recreation is encouraged by rewarding:

  • The availability of recreation space for all in a communal or private setting
  • The utilisation of suitable public space locally
  • The provision of appropriate spaces for growing food

Maintaining and enhancing ecological value

In order to create an attractive environment it is important to maintain existing local ecological character and enhance this wherever possible. In order to capitalise on this the Home Quality Mark will recognise where:

  • Existing ecological and landscape value and risks are understood
  • The experience of experts is utilised where appropriate to determine existing value and opportunities for enhancement on the site and local area
  • Key existing natural features are protected both during construction and into the future
  • Maintenance arrangements are out in place to protect these features.

Source: BRE – http://homequalitymark.com

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