Our Development team has been working on updating their design brief to be shared with the contractors who build our new properties. This design brief aims to map out how we want our properties to look and feel and what items should be included to help make them a home.

Part of this update was consulting our tenants and customers through the "Your Voice – Homes" forum. We wanted to know what worked with our current homes and what didn't. We asked for feedback on the proposed changes and what could also be included to improve our properties and our offer to tenants and customers.

The changes to the design brief included updating the space standards to ensure that the properties are big enough for internal storage and also for them to have room, if needed, to fit renewable technologies in the future. We also looked at the changes to building regulations and environmental standards to include PV panels and extra insulation on a proportion of our new builds.

The "Your Voice" forum made suggestions for improvements and cost savings. One of these was that adding external electricity points on all bungalows and ground floor flats might be too costly for potential mobility scooter charging. Instead, it was felt that a blanked off electricity supply to the external area was more cost-efficient. This would mean that the supply was there if needed, with a charging point being an easy addition at a later date to the properties that required it rather than to all.

To support our environmental focus, we will be adding water butts to new build properties rather than external taps. Hedgehog highways will also be accommodated on new build developments where we have control of the site. These highways ensure that there is a small gap in the fences of properties to allow hedgehogs to move through the site when looking for food and encourage the growth of declining hedgehog populations.

Sheds were also discussed, and we are looking at options including installing sheds in new build rental properties and "gifting" them to the tenant at sign up, or whether a grant or voucher can be offered to the tenants to purchase and install their own shed giving an element of choice and ownership.

We aim to review our design brief every two years to ensure that our quality standards reflect the current regulations and design standards. We always welcome feedback from our tenants on improvements, and any suggestions can be sent to the Development Team at enquiries@progressgroup.org.uk