Wellbeing and privacy Time and again residents have told us that privacy at home is crucial to their quality of life. All the participants in The Way We Live Now spoke about the importance of ‘me time’ away from other members of the household.68
Noise Noise both inside and outside the home is a big issue. Not suffering excessive noise from outside or neighbouring homes, and windows not overlooking other people’s homes, were among the top three factors raised by respondents to the Commission’s survey.69 We saw a film of a couple who could hear their neighbours’ toilet flushing. They watched television with headphones on, to avoid disturbing their neighbours.70 There have been improvements; compliance with sound insulation regulations in new properties rose between 2009 and 2011 and has often exceeded regulatory minimum.71 One affordable housing developer we spoke to builds homes with sound insulation far exceeding building regulations at virtually no extra cost simply by thinking about it when deciding the basic design, layout and materials. Research shows that while noise insulation is something that is difficult for consumers to measure, they see it as important.72 Clearly-explained sound insulation data should be provided for all homes so that consumers understand the levels of privacy offered.
“The most well-planned of homes will have negative impacts on residents if located in an oppressive context — overlooking a rubbish tip, for example, or orientated so that its windows do not provide generous levels of natural light.” Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, the developers behind New Earswick village, North Yorkshire
67_ The London Plan: Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London, The Greater London Authority, 2011 68_ Their comments about their wellbeing form a film available online at www.behomewise.co.uk/videos 69_ Respondents were asked to rank attributes of the home on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being unimportant and 5 being important. Privacy and noise levels from outside the home (noise levels from outside or neighbouring homes, and windows not overlooking other people’s homes) achieved the third highest score for importance, with 49% ranking it as 5 70_ The Way We Live Now, RIBA and Ipsos MORI, 2012 71_ Evidence submitted by the Home Builders Federation based on Can the house building industry ever achieve full compliance with the sound insulation requirements of National Building Regulations and create truly sustainable homes? Presentation by Philip Dunbavin at EuroNoise, Prague 2012 72_ The Way We Live Now, RIBA and Ipsos MORI, 2012
Derwenthorpe, York © Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust