#Immediacy on speech making

IRAIN - Three hundred years ago most families, with help, built their own houses,....

Three hundred years ago most families, with help, built their own houses, and what little furniture they had was home-made. Houses were built from local materials, and had a character which today's designers often strive for in vain. Living spaces were more adaptable than they are now and, though built by hand, tended to last longer.

Because the designer was also the person living in the building, there was little chance of such gross miscalculations about what people want as today's tower blocks and concrete slabs. In the last 10 years the self-build housing and community architecture movements have started to put design decisions back into the hands of the consumers of housing, and this impetus is trickling into interior and garden design too. In 2007 more than 10,000 houses, including some highly attractive and innovative dwellings, were built by their owners.

Not only are they better built, there is also an average 40 per cent saving in cost. WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE: It needs to be accepted that the people who actually inhabit spaces should as far as possible be involved in designing them. Community planning and building projects ought to be encouraged, and it should be made easier for the public to participate in the design process.

Building and planning law should be flexible enough to allow for innovative environment-friendly design, and small-scale experimental 'green' design projects encouraged and supported. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Look carefully at the spaces you live in. See what could be done to make them more attractive and maintenance-free. Make things as simple as possible by reducing furniture - and thus cleaning - to a minimum.

Introduce as much natural light as possible, and spend as much time....

Introduce as much natural light as possible, and spend as much time as you can in the lightest rooms. Daylight is much better for you (and cheaper) tha... read more

Though we tend to take noise for granted, 18 per cent of....

Though we tend to take noise for granted, 18 per cent of Britons say they are frequently bothered by traffic noise and 20 per cent by neighbours' noise; 8 to 10 per ce... read more

Noise pollution is often one of the effects of activities which are....

Noise pollution is often one of the effects of activities which are environmentally destructive, like road-building and quarrying. TELEVISION - THE FACTS: Ninety-eight per cent o... read more