Building for Life Relaunched - BfL12 refreshed to work with NPPF

20 Sep, 2012

A revised Building for Life (BfL), the industry owned and Government endorsed guide for new home and neighbourhood design, will be launched today in Leicestershire by its three partners: Cabe at the Design Council, the Home Builders Federation and Design for Homes.

BfL12, is the third version of the guide for developers and local authorities and responds to and ensures it is best suited to the needs of the reformed planning system under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Localism Act.

BfL12 is designed to help local communities become more involved in design conversations and in shaping development proposals. Its 12 questions provide a structure for discussions between local communities, the local planning authority, the developer and other stakeholders, to ensure that the design of new homes and their neighbourhood are as attractive, functional and sustainable as possible.

Its development is the result of a unique collaboration between house builders, local authorities, planners, architects and academics. It enables stakeholders involved in housing to consider all the elements of what makes “a good place to live” at the design stage.

The NPPF, published in March, puts a lot more power and responsibility in the hands of local authorities and local communities. It also gives continued weight to promoting design quality. BfL12 will help communities as they work with developers to seek outcomes that are both practical and ensure the developments planned for their area provide maximum benefit to existing and new residents.

From a house builder’s perspective, BfL12 will help build on the significant efforts made in recent years to drive up customer satisfaction levels such that they are now at an all time high.

Pam Alexander, a Trustee of the Design Council, who chaired the review for the three partners said:

“I am pleased that we have had such eager engagement in this reframing of Building for Life from across the professions, from the industry, from government and from representatives of communities. I hope that the new BfL 12 questions will be the basis of many constructive conversations which lead to well-designed neighbourhoods which are welcome additions to existing communities as good neighbours to have, as well as providing badly needed new homes which will be great to live in and enjoy.

Nahid Majid, Director of the Cabe team at the Design Council, comments:

“Over the last 12 years BfL has been instrumental in taking forward and ensuring high quality design in residential development. It is a tool well used and respected by both Local Authorities and Developers. We now have a new emphasis on community engagement, local decision-making and the Government’s Housing Strategy which recognised that  BfL should be updated to reflect the new planning system. Working with our partners, and through active consultation with users, we are really pleased that BfL has now been revamped to 12 questions as BfL12. We feel sure that BfL 12 has a great future in enabling constructive conversations about design which will lead to good developments.”

Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation said:

“Building for Life is an extremely useful tool. It is a unique collaboration that provides a comprehensive guide to all parties involved in housing design. Surveys show that the people who buy and live in new homes already have exceptionally high satisfaction levels. But the industry is constantly looking for ways to improve further and deliver ever higher quality homes.”

David Birkbeck, Design for Homes, said:

"The new BFL criteria now closely reflect the postbag issues for elected members and MPs - such as bin storage and boundary disputes - to tackle design from the neighbourhood's perspective. They are also offer the perfect template for community engagement about what should be expected of any development."

Richard Hill, Deputy Chief Executive at the HCA, said:

“BFL has consistently proven itself an indispensable tool in creating well designed places where people want to live and work.  It is extremely important to the HCA – it’s one of our core standards for affordable housing – and this latest refresh, aligning BFL with new planning policy and using more accessible language, is timely and welcome.”

Nicola Handa, Senior Planner (Urban Designer) at Leicester City Council, said today:

“Building for Life is a valuable component in our commitment to designing quality places. Having become a familiar standard for everyone involved in housing development, we are encouraged to see its future secured with the remodelled Building for Life 12. We welcome the new version which is easier to follow and the new section, ‘We recommend’ is a useful addition. We look forward to using it and applying its principles.”

Stephen Stone, Chief Executive, Crest Nicholson PLC said:

“The Building for Life principles offer a benchmark for well-designed homes and communities, and it is essential that we continue to recognise how important good design is for improving quality of life and delivering a long term legacy. The new traffic light system is not only easier to understand, but also provides a far more holistic approach because it addresses all aspects of good design.

It’s reinstatement by the ‘Building for Life Partners’ will be welcomed by the industry, as it’s important that we continue to reward high quality design and the contribution that house builders make towards the creation of place. 

An inclusive, sensitive and sustainable approach to design, underpinned by real community engagement, is one that exemplifies our own ethos at Crest Nicholson, and I’m pleased that the relaunch of BfL will prompt a new focus on what is an important industry issue.”  

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Download a copy of the Guide to BfL12

For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, please contact

• Steve Turner, HBF, 020 7960 1606 / 07919 307 760 or

• Tim Crowley,Design Council on 07748 906897 or


Notes to Editors:

1. Building for Life 12 (BfL12) is led by three partners’: Cabe at the Design Council, Home Builders Federation and Design for Homes, supported by Nottingham Trent University. 

2. The Design Council is a charity which enables people to use design to transform communities, business and the environment for the better. Its work places design at the heart of creating value by stimulating innovation in business and public services, improving the built environment and tackling complex social issues. The Design Council inspires new design thinking, encourages public debate and informs government policy to improve everyday life and help meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Cabe is the successor to CABE, the Government’s advisor on architecture and the built environment, which merged with the Design Council in April 2011.

3. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the representative body of the home building industry in England and Wales. HBF’s members account for some 80% of all new homes built in England and Wales in any one year, and include companies of all sizes, ranging from multi-national, household names through regionally based businesses to small local companies:

4. Design for Homes is a social enterprise which researches what works best for the layout, design and construction of new homes:

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