Building for Life is back


David Tittle

David Tittle


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The Building for Life standard for new housing developments has been re-launched as BfL12.

Building for Life is the industry standard, endorsed by Government, for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods.  Local communities, local authorities, developers and designers are being invited to use BfL12 to stimulate conversations about creating good places to live. BfL12 has received strong support from a house-building industry that had fallen out of love with the old version.

The new standard has reduced 20 questions to 12 by consolidating some and removing those that had not proved helpful in improving quality. The 12 questions are grouped in to three areas: integrating into the neighbourhood, creating a place and street & home.  Efforts have also been made to rid the BfL documentation of jargon.

The new Building for Life addresses some of the criticisms of the old standard.  The old 20-question BfL allowed schemes to be awarded a gold or silver standard while underperforming in 4 or 6 areas. From the developers and designers perspective old BfL was often used to condemn schemes rather than improve them. The system of accredited assessors was also criticised for being too cumbersome and bureaucratic.

BfL12 will work on a ‘traffic-light’ system.  This is intended to stimulate discussion on the design of new developments by focussing on what is needed to turn amber into green (and avoid red).  BfL12 is a tougher standard because a scheme should not be allowed to underperform in any area. The clear implication is that red means ‘stop!’ But it is important that the new BfL is not used as justification to deny a scheme planning permission unless it has first been used to have a thorough debate about how to improve it.

MADE will be working with OPUN, our colleagues in the East Midlands and Nottingham Trent University, to provide training in the new BfL12 and other support to those wanting to use it.  Details of BfL12 training will be available soon.  To register your interest please email.

Further information can be found on the Design Council website.

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