New design service launched for home builders and buyers

A new design service through an online-based Building for Life 12 (BfL12) service has been launched this week by planning minister Nick Boles.

The design service ( is designed to help home buyers to locate developments in their area that have been recognised for bearing the hallmarks of attractive, functional and sustainable places to live. The tool will also allow developers to upload their projects with planning approval for review and promotion.

In addition to the launch of the new service, a second round of Built for Life commendations have been released.

A rising number of high-quality residential schemes are attaining the BfL12 – the government-endorsed national industry standard for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods.

So far, 21 sites incorporating a total of almost 12,000 homes have been awarded the accreditation. The sites are situated in 19 different planning authorities across the UK, in both urban and rural locations . There are also dozens of new developments currently under review.

Director of Design Council Cabe Clare Devine described the increase in developments meeting the BfL12 standard as ‘encouraging’.

“We are very pleased to be able to commend a great selection of schemes across the country. It is encouraging to see so many housebuilders prioritising good design and creating great places to live. Cabe has examined each scheme robustly and independently robustly using a group of its Built Environment Experts. The examination system delivered by Cabe is now in place to assess future schemes as they come through,” she said.

Building for Life is a social enterprise that aims to enhance the quality of design and layout in new-build housing by encouraging the public to get more involved in discussions concerning design and planning proposals. The partnership, which comprises Design Council Cabe, the Home Builders Federation and Design for Homes, and is supported by Nottingham Trent University, assesses the quality of a development by asking 12 questions that take into account how it is integrated into a neighbourhood, the sense of place that is created and the design of the street and homes.

As part of the assessment of a high-rise residential property in London, Building for Life noted ‘a strong attention to detail in the form of deep reveals, stone plinths and recessed balconies’.

Here at Sapphire Balustrades, we believe that architectural features such as high-quality balustrades and balconies are all-important in the creation of attractive, functional and sustainable high-rise homes. Creating well designed balconies can be much easier than it previously may have been with Sapphire’s extensive free design service.

Providing an unmatched level of personal service, we work with architects and contractors from the concept stage of each project through to the survey, design, manufacture and installation phases. We also provide a follow-up review of each project to ensure clients’ needs have been met. Our aim is to develop products and systems that are attractive, practical, safe and sustainable and we strive to achieve our objectives every step of the way.