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Anita Conway: Building homes for now and for the future

26 Jul 2021

AFTER almost 18 months where we’ve spent considerably more time in our homes than anywhere else, we will all have strong opinions on the good and bad of house design.  

Whether it’s a quiet place to work - or perhaps get away from work - storage space, fresh air, good heating and insulation, there may be something you wish could be done better in your home.

At Radius we consider these things every day and actively look for solutions that will help us construct sustainable and comfortable homes which are fit for now and long into the future. New build standards have increased considerably in recent years, and social housing must meet the standards set by the Department for Communities.We have taken those high standards as a minimum as we innovate in the way we construct our homes to ensure that sustainability and energy efficiency are central.

Climate change and the sustainability agenda are now front and centre of our development projects. Energy efficiency is a key part of the new energy strategy, and we are now working towards developing new build homes to Energy Performance Certificate ratings of A. This will help play a part in tackling climate change and ensure that our tenants save on energy bills.

We are also looking at how we can be innovative with space, as the working from home practice will become an increased part of how businesses operate. So we are seeking to utilise spaces, such as under stair areas, as adaptable work stations.

Key to quality new build housing is not just how the space inside is managed, but also outside. From private garden space to community open areas and planting projects, we consider this a vital aspect of the development, knowing it will have a positive impact and will promote healthy lifestyles.

Traditional housing developments are usually defined as either social or private. But with a competitive private sales market, many young people and families have struggled to get started with home ownership, and have been caught in a cycle of private rental.

In recent developments, such as Blacks Gate in Belfast and Cappagh Green in Portstewart, we have developed affordable homes for private sale, set at a competitive price for the buyer. The demand for these homes has been huge, and now private and social homes sit side by side in these developments, which have been called tenure blind or mixed tenure.

Mixed tenure is central to the future of new house building as we begin to see a larger appetite for tenure choice across Northern Ireland.

While Radius has made mixed tenure a key part of new projects, it will become more prevalent as local councils finalise their development plans and social/affordable housing provision will be a required element of all new housing projects. As we see it, this is something to be embraced by house builders.

Being able to call a house a home is now more important than ever as people spend more time in their properties. Sustainability and energy efficiency are key components and indeed criteria for new homes.

The efficient use of space, inside and out contributes to improving in how we live and work and at Radius we aim to innovate and provide homes which meets the needs of all our tenants and new home owners.

:: Anita Conway is director of development at Radius Housing

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