Building the country’s new homes should be about creating communities, according to a new report that outlines why there should be more emphasis on attractive housing.
An interim report called ‘Creating Space for Beauty’ has been released by Building Better, Building Beautiful (BBBB) Commission, formed last November by Housing Secretary James Brokenshire.
The new report makes a plea for the public to be consulted earlier than later at planning stage about the design process. It states that more importance should be given to the appearance of buildings when constructing new residential developments in the UK. It believes that it is down to councils to ensure that planning permission is refused for unsightly, unattractive housing.
Good public transport needed in mixed-use community schemes
The BBBB interim report highlights the need for adequate public transport to be an integral part of any housing development plan in order to reduce vehicle use and provide the infrastructure for mixed-use community schemes. The report also encourages revisiting the potential re-development of existing brownfield sites.
Nicholas Boys Smith, interim chair of the BBBB Commission, said: “Our initial report sets many ways we can make our country more beautiful while fulfilling the needs of future generations who will need a roof over their head. Councils should have confidence in ‘saying no to ugliness’.”
“Redeveloping abandoned out of town retail parks and ugly old supermarkets would deliver something much more beautiful in the form of thriving new communities where people can raise a family, work or settle down.”
James Brokenshire said: “We owe it to the next generation to not just build more homes, but to build communities people can be proud of. As a country, we should not shy away from talking about what building beautifully means and this report is an important contribution to that discussion.”
Beauty should be a part of place making and building
The interim report has been welcomed by the Town and County Planning Association (TCPA). Fiona Howie, chief executive of the TCPA, said: “The interim report rightly places great emphasis on the value of place making rather than just house building and argues that beauty should be considered in relation to buildings, places and where places are located.”
The BBBB Commission’s interim report touches on a number of themes raised in the Raynsford Review of Planning, published in November 2018, which informed the evidence presented by the TCPA to the Commission. These themes include underfunding of local authority planning departments, a loss of public trust in the development process and the need for meaningful community engagement in planning.
Importance of good building design deserves recognition
Fiona Howie added: “We hope that the interim report will raise awareness within Government of just how important planning, design, building and regeneration is for people’s health and well-being. Looking ahead to the final report this December and drawing on the emphasis in the interim report on communities, we encourage the Commission to set out a clear recommendation for a statutory purpose for the planning system that focuses on outcomes for people.”
Sarah Weir, chief executive at The Design Council, described the report as ‘bold and imaginative.’ She said: “I am especially pleased to see a strong focus on true collaboration and much earlier community engagement, the emphasis on the value of holistic place making and the recognition that sustainability and green infrastructure needs to be at the heart of planning and design.”
TCPA’s chief executive Fiona Howie said: “We hope the Commission will recommend the introduction of a Healthy Homes Act to define what constitutes a decent, beautiful home; to make sure that new housing and the communities it is located within, support people’s health, safety, wellbeing and life chances.”