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HCA hits back at Kickstart design criticism

The Homes and Communities Agency has hit back at suggestions the Kickstart house building programme failed to deliver on design, arguing the programme provided a boost in housing, on time and for good value, exactly as it intended.

The comments follow the Information Commissioner’s decision to force the HCA to publish data revealing that Kickstart developments had, in some cases, scored poorly on the Building for Life assessment, judged by design watchdog Cabe.

The data revealed that the first round of Kickstart developments had an average score of just eight out of 20 on the BfL assessment.

However, the second round of schemes achieved a notable improvement, averaging almost 12.

Cabe considers any building scoring below 10 to be of poor quality, while those above 14 are judged good.

The low scores provoked an outcry from the design community, who argued that public money should not be used to fund “bad design”. The government invested £716m into the scheme in 2009 to help get the house building moving again in the midst of recession.

HCA director of place making Trevor Beattie defended the scheme, arguing its main purpose – to kickstart the house building industry - had been a resounding success.

 “The figures speak for themselves; the Kickstart programme has been a vital fillip for the industry. It has created 20,000 homes and saved or created thousands of jobs.”

Home Builders Federation executive chairman Stewart Baseley agreed.

“Kickstart must be judged an enormous success. Criticising the process detracts from the success of a programme that delivered thousands of desperately needed homes that otherwise would not have been built.”

Cabe director of education and external affairs Matt Bell said there was no justification for bad design.

But he welcomed the fact that round two had seen the HCA funding just 15 schemes Cabe considered poor, a considerable improvement on the 73 given the go-ahead in the first round.

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