‘Beauty’ the focus of proposals covering new housing in England

PROPOSALS to help ensure that new housing developments are both ‘beautiful’ and ‘well-designed’ have been unveiled for England, by the Housing Secretary at Westminster.

Key to the proposals is the publishing of a draft national design code that “provides a checklist of design principles to consider for new developments, such as street character, building type, façade, and the requirements that address wellbeing and environmental impact, which councils can use as a foundation for their own local design codes”.

Also unveiled is £4 million for what is described as a ‘new Community Housing Fund’, to “support community-based organisations [such as Community Land Trusts] to bring forward local housebuilding projects for the £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme”.

Says an UK Government announcement (here): “Greater concentration will now be placed on the quality, design and the environment in planning than ever before, with the local community fully involved in how they want new developments to look and feel.

“For example, the proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework will set an expectation that good quality design will be approved while poor quality will be rejected, and includes a commitment to ensure that all streets are lined with trees.

“The measures mean the word ‘beauty’ will be specifically included in planning rules for the first time since the system was created in 1947 – going back to a previous time when there was a greater emphasis on whether a building was considered attractive to local people.”

Westminster says the proposals are its response to a report just published by the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, Living with Beauty – promoting health, well-being and sustainability.

The extensive and detailed government announcement is accompanied by several illustrations, of possible recommended design options.

Also proposed is an ‘Office of Place’ – to be set up within the year – “which will support local communities to turn their designs into the standard for all new buildings in their area”.

An interim Office of Place is to be chaired by Nicholas Boys Smith, co-chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission and founding director of Create Streets, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) aiming to “advance the education of the public in subjects related to the built environment, successful development and the associations between urban form and mental health, physical health, community cohesion and pro-social behaviour”.

The Housing Secretary at Westminster is Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP.

Further reading: Building (here), Housing Today (here) and Building Design (here).

Illustration courtesy of Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

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