New guidance aims to crack down on ‘bin blight’

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has praised new guidance released by house-building advisory group the National House-Building Council (NHBC) Foundation that aims to ‘tackle the scourge of bin blight’.

Avoiding Rubbish Design: Providing for bin storage on new housing developments’ argues that UK householders often have inadequate space to store their waste receptacles and therefore place their bins on pavements and walkways, causing congestion and eyesores.

Consequently, it says building developers must do more to ensure that developments provide adequate space for waste and recycling containers to ‘bring benefits both in terms of reducing visual impacts but also of improving convenience for the people living in new homes’.

Report details

The NHBC first identified how householders are required to present their waste and recycling in English local authorities. It concluded that there is a ‘huge disparity’ in the number of bins required in each area, with householders in Newcastle-under-Lyme being provided with nine bins/containers (though, in this often-highlighted and misrepresented case, the council requires only two wheeled bins (residual waste and garden waste), food waste containers, a box for glass, a box for cans – and four easily-stored bags, including one for textiles), while other areas just need to place waste and recycling into one or two receptacles.

However, nearly two-thirds of councils (212 local authorities) waste and recycling services require households to have four or more bins (or other waste containers) to collect household waste.

It highlighted that, while large numbers of bins can affect all types of housing stock, developers give insufficient attention to bin storage in new housing projects.

Recommendations for bin accommodation

New guidance aims to crack down on ‘bin blight’
An example of good bin accomodation design as per 'Avoiding Rubbish Design: Providing for bin storage on new housing developments’

As such, the NHBC gathered examples of good housing design, where adequate storage has been integrated into developments ‘unobtrusively’, in the hopes that the research will lead to model designs for bin/recycling container stores that could be widely adopted by the industry and alleviate ‘bin blight’.

These include:

  • free-standing, purpose-built bin storage in the front, back or sides of semi-detached houses (such as that at Horsted Park, Chatham);
  • free-standing, built-in, communal, or semi-integrated storage at the front for terraced housing (such as that at Kidbrooke Village in Greenwich);
  • free-standing, built-in, or semi-integrated communal storage for apartment buildings (such as that at Ingress Park in Dartford or Trumpington Meadows in Cambridge); and
  • underground bin storage for large apartment blocks or areas of high-density housing (such as that used in apartment blocks in Tower Hamlets, London).

In general, the NHBC urges house-builders to consider several points when designing waste collection facilities:

  • understanding the number and size of bins (and other containers) used in the local area, but designing storage that is adaptable to change (for example, additional bins);
  • considering the integration of waste and recycling storage from the earliest stages of housing design;
  • aiming to locate communal storage in accessible locations and ensuring convenience for use for residents with reduced mobility;
  • ensuring that solutions are durable, low-maintenance, cleanable and work with the design of the houses;
  • taking into account issues such as fire safety, odour and noise pollution and vermin; and
  • providing appropriate hard-standing areas to the front of buildings for collection days.

Britain may need to consider ‘more radical solutions’

Neil Smith, Head of Research and Innovation at the NHBC, said: “Ill thought-out waste storage creates a real challenge and it sometimes seems as if insufficient attention is given to how bins are accommodated on new housing developments.

“Designers need to find practical ways to hide numerous wheelie bins and other containers. Alternatively, the time may have come for Britain's house-building industry to consider more radical solutions to solve the bin blight problem – such as shared facilities on street corners or underground bin storage.

"Our research has identified examples of good practice where waste and recycling storage is inconspicuous and has been integrated into developments well. We hope the findings of this research will be beneficial to the UK house-building industry and the communities they serve.”

Commenting on the report, Pickles stated: “Far too many of our streets are still dominated by the ugly clutter of unsightly bins, which ruin the look of families’ homes and gardens.

“This commonsense guide, backed up by revised planning rules and building regulations, will help ensure that the housing industry raises their game when building new homes.

“Families deserve a comprehensive waste and recycling service in return for the taxes they pay and as part of this they should not have to suffer bin blight in their local neighbourhood.”

Find out more about the NHBC’s bin storage guide or Pickles’s attempts to tackle England’s ‘bin blight’.

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