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Building for Life 12 is a government-endorsed industry standard for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods. Local communities, local authorities and developers are encouraged to use it to guide discussions about creating good places to live. Building for Life 12 (BfL12) is led by three partners: Cabe at the Design Council, Design for Homes and the Home Builders Federation, supported by Nottingham Trent University. It was redesigned in 2012 to reflect the National Planning Policy Framework’s commitment not only to build more homes, but better homes, such as can be achieved when local communities participate in the place-making process and help identify how development can be shaped to accommodate both new and existing communities. The questions are therefore designed to help structure discussions between local communities, local planning authorities, developers and other stakeholders*. BfL12 is also designed to help local planning authorities assess the quality of proposed and completed developments; it can be used for site-specific briefs and can also help to structure design codes and local design policies. Based on BfL12’s ‘traffic light’ system, developments that achieve 9 ‘greens’ are eligible for ‘Built for Life™’ accreditation. ‘Built for Life™’ accreditation is a quality mark available immediately after planning approval, offering developers the opportunity to promote the quality of their developments during sales and marketing activity. It will also help those seeking a home to find a place to live which has been designed to have the best possible chance of becoming a popular and desirable neighbourhood. Built for Life™ quality mark is the sign of a good (or better) place to live but the ambition of the Built for Life partnership is to encourage hundreds of developments built across the country to use this standard for their design. Some of these will be good enough to achieve 12 greens or the Built for Life ‘Outstanding’ and these will form the basis for an awards programme honouring the ‘best of the best’.

BfL12 comprises of 12 easy to understand questions that are designed to be used as a way of structuring discussions about a proposed development. There are four questions in each of the three chapters: • Integrating into the neighbourhood • Creating a place • Street and home Based on a simple ‘traffic light’ system (red, amber and green) we recommend that proposed new developments aim to: • Secure as many ‘greens’ as possible, • Minimise the number of ‘ambers’ and; • Avoid ‘reds’. The more ‘greens’ that are achieved, the better a development will be. A red light gives warning that a particular aspect of a proposed development needs to be reconsidered.

Integrating into the neighbourhood

1 Connections Does the scheme integrate into its surroundings by reinforcing existing connections and creating new ones, while also respecting existing buildings and land uses around the development site?

2 Facilities and services Does the development provide (or is it close to) community facilities, such as shops, schools, workplaces, parks, play areas, pubs or cafes?

3 Public transport Does the scheme have good access to public transport to help reduce car dependency?

4 Meeting local housing requirements Does the development have a mix of housing types and tenures that suit local requirements?

Creating a place

5 Character Does the scheme create a place with a locally inspired or otherwise distinctive character?

6 Working with the site and its context Does the scheme take advantage of existing topography, landscape features (including water courses), wildlife habitats, existing buildings, site orientation and microclimates?

7 Creating well defined streets and spaces Are buildings designed and positioned with landscaping to define and enhance streets and spaces and are buildings designed to turn street corners well?

8 Easy to find your way around Is the scheme designed to make it easy to find your way around?

Street & home

9 Streets for all Are streets designed in a way that encourage low vehicle speeds and allow them to function as social spaces?

10 Car parking Is resident and visitor parking sufficient and well integrated so that it does not dominate the street?

11 Public and private spaces Will public and private spaces be clearly defined and designed to be attractive, well managed and safe?

12 External storage and amenity space Is there adequate external storage space for bins and recycling as well as vehicles and cycles?

Source: BFL12 document 


School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


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