#Build A Better Britain

Post date: Apr 29, 2015 9:36:22 AM

With the general election just around the corner, we approached each of the five parliamentary candidates for Cambridge and invited them to comment on the RIBA’s goals, as set out in the #BuildABetterBritain campaign announced last year. Summarizing the campaign to our five local candidates, we asked them if, ahead of the election, they would commit to the pledge: ‘I promise to champion a better built environment for every community in my constituency to #BuildABetterBritain.’

From the biggest cities to the smallest villages, what we decide to build shapes every aspect of our lives. By asking the candidates to support the campaign, we were asking them to demonstrate that they would promote a better built environment for every community within the Cambridge constituency. We asked them to show that they were committed to building good homes, supporting well-planned places and spaces, and encouraging healthier, happier

spaces by thinking about older people’s homes. Alongside commitment to the pledge, we also invited candidates to answer the following questions, building on the campaign’s theme of design quality:

  1. Describe three actions they would undertake to improve the built environment in Cambridge.
  2. Describe how they would deliver a higher quality built environment, in the context that quality is often undervalued in the market place which can negatively impact on living space, quality of life, and sustainability.
  3. Explain whether they believe Cambridge would benefit more from better space standards for housing, or the creation of more sustainable buildings.


Martin Hale, branch chairman of UKIP Cambridge and South East Cambridgeshire

Julian Huppert, former Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge

Daniel Zeichner

new Labour MP for Cambridge


UKIP candidates do not endorse third-party campaigns.

The RIBA are asking all parliamentary candidates to pledge to Build A Better Britain. The pledge is: "I promise to champion a better built environment for every community in my constituency to #BuildaBetterBritain." Will you make this pledge before the election (or have you made it already)?

Yes. One of the biggest challenges facing Cambridge and our country is delivering a better built environment for everyone. As a County Cllr and the MP, I worked really hard to build more high-quality and affordable homes and promote well-being in our communities. We secured the Greater Cambridge City Deal, worth up to £1 billion, to support affordable housing and sustainable transport. If I am re-elected, I will continue to champion this cause.

Please describe three actions you would undertake to improve the built environment in Cambridge?

We need communities that are built around people, not just roads. Good design can create spaces that make people feel safe and connected to their neighbours; we need to encourage that model of development. A connection with the environment is also critical, with green spaces throughout developments.

High quality design is consistently undervalued in the marketplace, which negatively impacts living space, quality of life and sustainability.

Please describe how you (or your party) would deliver a higher quality built environment?

We need better standards for buildings across the country, concerning lifetime homes, decent living spaces and environmental standards. We will work with local communities to build ten new Garden Cities in England. This will provide a golden opportunity for good inclusive planning and design, setting expectations for the rest of the country.

What do you believe would benefit Cambridge more: better space standards for housing, or creating more sustainable buildings?

Both are important. People need space in their houses so they are pleasant to live in. But it is absolutely critical for buildings to be sustainable to build a green future. We need to work to deliver both of these goals – I see no reason why one of them has to be sacrificed for the other.

Response promised; never received

Response promised; never received

With reference to the RIBA #Build a Better Britain campaign and the issue of better space standards for housing, I fully support the position taken by the Labour-controlled Cambridge City Council in applying the rule that one-bed accommodation should be no smaller than 37 sq m, which will encourage provision of enough space in dwellings to ensure that homes can be used flexibly by a range of residents.

Cllr Kevin Blencowe, the city council's executive councillor for housing, recently said "Most new housing units whether private or public currently being built in the city meet these standards already. We believe long-term accommodation should be planned for with a far more adequate decent standard."

As the MP for Cambridge I will work closely with Labour councillors on building more high quality social housing and encouraging developers to build more affordable private housing to a high design standard. As part of the Greater Cambridge City Deal I will work with all the local authority, university and business partners to ensure that we can deliver the 33,480 planned homes and transport infrastructure planned for the region and will encourage high standards in design and sustainability throughout.

Labour's plan is to build 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 and to prioritise capital spending on affordable housing, all starting from a 'Brownfield First' principle. We will also build a new generation of garden cities. As a committed environmentalist I want to ensure that as much of this housing as possible is sustainable, energy efficient, and built to high standard that improves quality of life and encourages alternatives to the car such as cycling, walking, and efficient, affordable public transport.

For more information on the RIBA’s #BuildABetterBritain campaign, head to www.architecture.com/BuildABetterBritain