Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm, has published detailed guidelines to help architects and contractors deliver its aspirations for a new standard of design for municipally owned housing.

The series of three guides – titled Hearts, Minds, Bricks and Mortar – were launched at an online event hosted by the New London Architecture (NLA) on 12 May and will be issued to the organisation’s development partners.

The aim is to ensure that the borough’s housing programme, which is one of the largest in the UK, is financially viable at affordable rent levels, has appropriate levels of standardisation and uses Modern Methods of Construction to reduce cost and speed up delivery – while also setting the highest possible standards for sustainability, public realm and materials while also creating great places to live.

Lord Kerslake, Chairman of Be First, said: “Over 100 years ago Barking and Dagenham set the gold standard for quality social housing and we intend to lead the way once again. These design guidelines underline our passionate desire to deliver top quality, well-built affordable homes in attractive, sustainable 21st century communities.  We aim to win hearts and minds through bricks and mortar.”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First said: “Our mission is to set a template for what quality affordable homes and vibrant and thriving communities should look like in the future and rebuild the reputation of councils as builders of top quality homes .

“These design guidelines set out our expectations from architects and contractors reflecting what we and our residents want – quality well designed homes which people would be proud to call home.”

The principles set out in the guides include:

  • developments must retain the borough’s history of affordability
  • homes should be built on a human scale which knits in with communities – developments must respond sensitively to the borough’s varied urban and suburban character
  • appropriate density and making the most of the Barking and Dagenham’s abundant waterside sites
  • tenure blind developments mixing low cost rental, submarket rents and shared ownership
  • safe and engaging public realm which encourages healthy lifestyles, food growing and flexibility in use including event spaces
  • sustainable homes and developments which meet the climate emergency head on
  • carbon neutral by 2030 with a no gas policy and use of air source heat pumps
  • use of Modern Methods of Construction and strive for standardisation

Peter Murray, Chairman of the NLA and board member of Be First said: “It’s absolutely crucial – particularly at this difficult time – that we design homes that respond to the climate change emergency. We must not create dinosaur developments that don’t stand the test of time.

“It’s why Be First is setting the pace with these guidelines for designers to innovate and create well-designed, sustainable homes that the people of Barking and Dagenham can afford.”

To view the guidelines click here

You can watch the launch here