Healthy housing should not be a radical idea

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We have forgotten public health lessons of the 19th century – but research at HMP Berwyn provides a new evidence base

Poor housing is currently costing the NHS about £2bn per year according to research by the BRE. More specifically, the “HHSRS” list of hazards that include factors like damp, heat and cold are directly causing health conditions in substandard housing occupants.

Like many such public health matters, this is likely grossly underestimated, as the process of evidencing cause and effect is inherently messy and results in a reductive process in which only the most direct links can be quantified. The BRE also publishes guidance on daylighting levels in buildings; however, the effects of daylight on health and wellbeing, while widely agreed upon, are only tentatively and patchily evidenced. The Building Regulations has no standards for daylighting: these are covered by planning, which has only recently become an issue with the increase in permitted development rights and examples that have been highlighted of residential accommodation being created without windows into living spaces, among other failings.


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