An example of how you might write this in your report
We aren’t reinventing the wheel or trying to change the way you work BFL is a framework which brings together all the things you already do when assessing a housing proposal It helps you to judge how the documentation fits into local policy, national policy and best practice
This shows a planning application decision which was influenced by the BFL assessment on the basis of performance against national and local policy
For example: You might know that local policy on tenure mix is for 30% affordable housing But the answer is more robust if you give the evidence and the reference
Part of the independent work is to cross reference each of the 20 criteria with national and local policy This will provide a quick reference point to demonstrate the foundation of your judgement in the policy context
The second example obviously makes much more sense than the first
This is not about quantity of detail, but being specific
This is not about quantity of detail, but being specific
BFL - Ciaran Regan
Frequently asked questions <ul><li>You can aim for greater objectivity by: </li></ul><ul><li>relating your comments to specific features of the design </li></ul><ul><li>using the evidence provided </li></ul><ul><li>making references to policy </li></ul><ul><li>Remembering the balance between Functionality, Firmness and Delight </li></ul>“ Isn’t the answer to these questions subjective?” If you are in doubt about how you could back up your comment…… leave it out . Firmness Will it last? Delight Does it look good? Functionality Is it fit for purpose?
Making it objective <ul><li>Will it work? </li></ul><ul><li>Look at layout, dimensions, materials, lighting, planting etc. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Walk through” the plans to understand how you would live there </li></ul>Focus on Functionality and Firmness (as well as Delight). If you are unsure, examine the design in further detail: <ul><li>Will it last? </li></ul><ul><li>How will the materials age? </li></ul><ul><li>What happens with rain water? </li></ul><ul><li>How will buildings and spaces be cleaned and maintained? </li></ul><ul><li>Will the house or the neighbourhood be sustainable? </li></ul>
Frequently asked questions “ I can’t decide on the score. Can I just give a half point?” <ul><li>No - a score of 0.5 should only be used when specific areas of a design perform well against the criterion and others where it fails. </li></ul><ul><li>If you’re thinking: “Hmm, it’s okay” try to think “Is it good enough?” “What exactly is it about this design that makes me think this design is good enough?” </li></ul><ul><li>Try not to use the half mark as a fall back. </li></ul>
Allocating half points Identify specific aspects which are successful and unsuccessful: + +/- - Fig. 29 Fig. 40 Fig. 46 Fig. 50 12. Is the car parking well integrated and situated to support the street scene?
Frequently asked questions <ul><li>A criterion might not be applicable if the design feature to be assessed (e.g. car parking) does not exist. </li></ul><ul><li>In this event: </li></ul><ul><li>Award a score of nil </li></ul><ul><li>Add a comment to explain why the criterion can’t be answered, and whether the absence of this feature is positive or negative </li></ul><ul><li>Rostron Brow, Stockport scored very highly and achieved a Building for Life award despite having no car parking or internal streets </li></ul>“ What happens if a criterion does not apply to the scheme ?”
Frequently asked questions <ul><li>NO </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture: The lack of access to facilities, amenities and public transport suggests that this is not a good location for the development and that it will not sustain a good quality of life! </li></ul><ul><li>Scores cannot be compared unless all schemes are scored against all criteria </li></ul>“ Can I discount criteria if I think they do not apply to the scheme ?” Criteria 1 (Community Facilities) and 4 (Public transport access) should be discounted because the scheme is situated on land remote from surrounding development and infrastructure.
Frequently asked questions <ul><li>NO </li></ul><ul><li>It is important that all assessments are as consistent as possible </li></ul><ul><li>a percentage score inadvertently weights certain criteria, even though they are equally important </li></ul><ul><li>is a development which scores 10/12 (83%) more sustainable and better designed than one which scores 16/20 (80%)? Probably not. </li></ul>“ Can I discount certain criteria and score a percentage ?”
Frequently asked questions <ul><li>NO </li></ul><ul><li>A finely graded scoring (e.g. 1-5 on each criterion) makes it much more difficult to achieve consistency between assessments </li></ul><ul><li>It can make it tempting to “sit on the fence”. Nil, a half, or one means you have to come to an evidenced decision </li></ul>“ Can I score a scheme more finely, e.g. 1-5 on each criterion ?”
Non-applicable criteria 12. Is the car parking well integrated and situated to support the street scene?
<ul><li>“ What status does my assessment have in planning?” </li></ul><ul><li>A Building for Life assessment is not an end in itself. It allows you to: </li></ul><ul><li>Gather and reference evidence from the planning documentation </li></ul><ul><li>Reference local and national policy and guidance </li></ul><ul><li>Look to best practice </li></ul>Frequently asked questions Local planning policy National planning policy Best practice Building for Life Evidence Evidence Evidence Evidence
What status does my assessment have in planning? <ul><li>Extract from planning committee report 2009: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The proposed scheme has been the subject of extensive discussions with the council’s urban designer, both prior to, and since, the application’s submission. The scheme has been amended significantly in response to design concerns, and previously low Building for Life ratings. The amended scheme has been re-assessed in terms of Building for Life by the urban designer, who now concludes that the assessment demonstrates that the scheme meets the minimum 14 out of 20 required to be considered of a “good” standard as defined and expected by Planning Policy Statements 1 and 3, Saved Local Plan Policy and Building for Life as a quality measure.” </li></ul>
Referencing local and national policy Yes. We ask for 30% affordable 1 Yes. The tenure breakdown is 30% affordable (25% social rent, 5% shared equity) and 70% market sale. This meets the requirement set out in the Housing Strategy (2005. H9) and Housing Needs Assessment (2008. 14/16) 1
Referencing local and national policy <ul><ul><li>Use the policy cross-reference table to put your assessment in context </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Update the table regularly for your own benefit </li></ul></ul>
House type H: The ground floor street frontage is entirely made up of front doors and garage doors, minimising informal surveillance of the street. Architectural notebook, May 2007 p30 Referencing the evidence <ul><li>Will you (or anybody else) be able to look at your assessment report in a year’s time, and find the evidence to explain and support your comments? </li></ul>
Evidence: Providing specific detail yes 1 Yes. The development is within 400m of a primary school, church, public house, a parade of shops, a series of green spaces, footpath network and open countryside. In addition sports fields, the district centre and medical facilities are within a 10 to 15 minute walk of the site and are also on the main bus routes (see also cr. 4: Public transport) 1
Evidence: Providing specific detail 17. Is public space well designed and does it have suitable management arrangements in place ? Space between plots 18-22, 23-25 and 26. The purpose, ownership, management and maintenance of these areas is unclear. See also cr.15: Safety and overlook. Plots 18 - 22: The architectural liaison officer's letter identifies safety concerns relating to plots 18-22. The developers response asserts that this street will be very active and well overlooked. This is highly questionable, since only five units are accessed via this street, and footfall and traffic will decline towards the eastern end of this road, whilst the south side of the street is bounded by a blank wall (see section aaa). See also cr 17: Public space. 15. Are public spaces and pedestrian routes overlooked and do they feel safe?
Evidence: Providing specific detail 17. Do the buildings exhibit architectural quality? <ul><li>House type X: </li></ul><ul><li>Access to the kitchen from the front door and from kitchen to dining room is only possible by passing through living room </li></ul><ul><li>Because of circulation patterns, the usable space in the living room is smaller than the garage. This is unfit for purpose in a house with 2 single / 2 double bedrooms. </li></ul><ul><li>The space behind the kitchen door is too narrow to allow for a standard 600mm kitchen unit. </li></ul><ul><li>If converted for full accessibility, the dining room is unfit for purpose (see also cr 18: Adaptation) </li></ul><ul><li>The blank end gable makes this house type inflexible and misses the opportunity for oblique surveillance of adjoining open space, e.g. at plot 65 (see also cr.15: Safety and overlook) </li></ul>13 sq m 17.4 sq m - 7.5 sq m 9.9 sq m
Filling in the standard form Identify the scheme Identify yourself Date of the assessment Check the formula: it should add up the score automatically
Filling in the standard form Space for general comments which don’t relate to a specific criterion (not a summary of your score) Put the score at the top of each row, level with the criterion question Add in extra rows if necessary: one for each discrete issue
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