There has been some interesting polling recently by Ipsos MORI for Create Streets.

In a nutshell, it shows that design matters in people’s support for building on brownfield land. More than three times as many respondents are prepared to support building new homes on brownfield land near where they live for the most popular type of housing compared to the least popular type (75 per cent vs 23 per cent).

Unpopular types of housing can sharply decrease support for building new homes – reducing this by 64 per cent – while popular ones can increase support for building new homes – by as much as 17 per cent.

Among the 64 per cent who support building “in principle”, 61 per cent do not support the building of the least popular house type.

Among the 14 per cent who oppose building in principle, 51per cent are prepared to support the building of the most popular house type.

So the polling indicates not only that most people prefer traditionalist rather than modernist design. It also shows that this factor is crucial in switching people from being anti development from being pro development when a housing development is proposed locally.

Nicholas Boys Smith, Director of Create Streets said:

“These findings demonstrate that design does matter in winning support for new buildings. There is over three times as much support for popular homes as for the least popular. And half of those who oppose new building in principle change their mind when presented with the most popular option.

“The poll also shows that a strong majority of the British public like the type of conventional home that a child would draw but which too many in the design and planning establishment condemn.

“Many blame the housing crisis on timid politicians failing to reform the planning system. However politicians are timid because new housing is unpopular with the public a majority of the time. This should not be surprising in a democracy.

“The answer surely is to reform the planning system to give greater focus to what people want. Neighbourhood plans should be just the first step in a direct planning revolution which removes planning power from property funds and city officials and returns it, where it belongs, to the rest of us.

“The question is not ‘how do we build more homes’ but ‘how do we make new homes more popular.’

Ben Marshall, Research Director at Ipsos MORI said;

“This survey adds to consistent evidence which shows that design matters. When it comes to addressing Britain’s housing supply shortage in the years ahead, ‘what?’ is important as well as ‘how many?’

“New builds have something of an image problem, but the evidence here is that this doesn’t have to be the case. And while there is likely to be a more acceptable face of new housing supply, we should also recognise that opinions vary geographically and demographically.”

This is a chance for a transformation from Nimbys to Bimbys – Beauty In My Back Yard.