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Emerging UK Housing Solutions,

Part 2 Dissertation 2006
Simon Cretney
De Montfort University | UK
This Dissertation considers current trends in new housing schemes in the UK. It begins with an investigation of the presumed ‘housing crisis’ and government reaction to the situation, such as Planning Policy Guidance and the recommendations of the Urban Task Force. These are then considered with regard to sociology, urban theory and history, raising the questions: are the guidelines taking effect? Do emerging housing schemes achieve these goals and how have they gone about it?

Case studies of two contrasting housing schemes are then presented. The schemes are Freemens Meadow (Modernist/contemporary in style) in Leicester and Dickens Heath (Classical/traditional in style) in Solihull. A full description and analysis is made of each scheme, including detailed observation, a review of marketing literature and Supplementary Planning Guidance, as well as an interview with a Leicester Urban Designer. The schemes are very similar in terms of size, regional location, date of conception and therefore political and economic climate. However, they display marked differences in approach, in terms of urban design and architectural style. This gives rise to further questions as to how two local authorities, who are aiming to achieve the same goals, can promote such stylistically divergent schemes to cater for similar circumstances? Is the architectural style simply an optional feature to be applied at the whim of local policy, or by the developer in response to market trends; or does one style have a theoretical, tectonic, semiotic or functional advantage over another?

These questions are then considered in relation to history, theory and precedents of the two respective styles, including critical reviews of the case studies, evaluating their successes and failures with regard to their theoretical backgrounds.

Finally the question is posed: are the two schemes conflicting or complementary? What are the influences on their differing qualities of style, form and theory, and what has informed the decisions to implement them? A closer look is taken at the sociological value of different architectural styles, with the emergence of lifestyle, choice and image. The role of marketing is also considered, and who the schemes are marketed at.

Simon Cretney

This dissertation develops a very good understanding of current issues of housing demand, supply and production, and relates these to architectural theories and positions. It demonstrates a critical understanding of relevant arguments and debates, a good interpretation of evidence, and use of appropriate data. Two contrasting case studies are investigated, using a range of methods including direct observation, interviews, and study of the scheme designs, and related to distinct theoretical approaches to housing and urban design. The work shows an excellent standard of written and visual communication, producing a really attractive and approachable study.

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