Eco-homes don't have to be 'eco-bling'
Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today warned that a lack of creativity could lead to Scandinavian-style "eco-bling" homes dominating our neighbourhoods over the next five years, as housebuilders prepare to go zero carbon in 2016.
He urged architects to go back to their drawing boards, and start finding ways to 'green up' the Great British home.
Mr Shapps today opened the 'Natural House', a low-carbon property developed by the Prince's Foundation at the Building Research Establishment in Watford. The property has been constructed to a traditional design using new low-carbon and low energy technologies.
There, the Minister reminded current and prospective homeowners that from 2016 all new homes must be built to a zero carbon standard. But he also argued that the "Natural House" demonstrates that British design will still have a place on our streets and does not need to be replaced by Scandinavian-style, 'eco-bling' properties that "wear their green credentials for all to see".
He therefore insisted that turning zero carbon in 2016 should not mean the end of the Great British home - whether it apes the Victorian terraces of the cities, or the cottages that dominate the streets of rural villages - which could be built to be eco-friendly just as well a the glass-fronted properties that have proved just as popular as more traditional designs.
Grant Shapps said:
"We all know the Scandinavian-style homes that feature on property programmes - wearing their green credentials for all to see. These are popular and display a high quality of design and craftsmanship. But a lack of creativity could mean this eco-bling dominates our neighbourhoods in as little as five years - I am clear that the beginning of zero carbon does not need to mean the end of Great British design.
"That's why between now and 2016 when all new homes must be zero carbon, I want developers and designers to go back to their drawing boards and see how they can 'green up' our traditional, British properties. People want to buy homes, not causes and just because a home is greener does not mean it can't reflect the character of the local area.
"With the Natural House in Watford, the Prince's Foundation has proved that Great British design doesn't need to be sacrificed to make our homes zero carbon. And as we move towards 2016, I want local people themselves to have their say, working with the Design Council to shape the future designs of their area to make them cleaner and greener."