Planning system to become a ‘fast-track’ for beauty

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick speaks ahead of the release of the government’s report into better planning and design.

Digger on a construction site

The release of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful report on Thursday (30th January) will look to consider the suggestion of a “fast-track” to beauty, according to housing secretary Robert Jenrick.

The report’s release, which follows a commission led by the late Sir Roger Scruton and Nicholas Boys Smith will set to examine the fundamental reasons for ‘ugly developments’ and public mistrust – encouraging greater use of master-planning – rather than communities engaging in town ‘planning by appeal’.

Sir Roger was at the centre of controversy last year when he was dismissed from and then reinstated to an unpaid role as chair of the commission.

He had lost the role after criticism of his comments about China and Muslim immigrants, but was restored when supporters said his remarks had been “misrepresented”.

Following Sir Roger’s death in January, Jenrick tweeted that his work on building more beautifully, submitted recently to my department, “will proceed and stand part of his unusually rich legacy.”

Speaking ahead of the report, Jenrick emphasised the contention that a sense of place “still matters” – and that now is the time to re-establish the “essential bond” between people and places.

“As Housing Secretary, I want to play my part by putting local people at the forefront of decision-making and giving them a greater say in the development of their neighbourhoods – that way, buildings can reflect the identity of their communities,” he said.

He added that in recent decades, there has been a ‘misconception’ among housebuilders that quality needs to be the enemy of supply – but he’s not convinced that needs to be the case.

“Evidence shows that those developments of the highest quality and the most attractive designs are approved more quickly, sell faster, and are the most enduringly popular,” Jenrick said.

“Yet, over the last few decades, many developers, architects, and politicians have suffered from collective amnesia. Part of the problem has been the lack of an accepted national standard for new homes.

“That is why I launched a brand-new National Design Guide last October.

“With an acknowledgement that what good looks like differs across England, we will expect local authorities to design their own guides in line with national standards.”

As reported by 24housing, the government launched proposals to change building regulations to tackle the carbon footprint of homes built after 2025, in a series of new housing policy proposals put forward by the housing secretary.

These include plans to change building regulations to tackle the carbon footprint of homes built after 2025, as well as the plan for a new national design code that will ensure developers “build beautiful, well-designed homes”.

In the coming months, every local authority across the country will be expected to produce their own design guide.

“Beauty should become the natural result of working within our planning system, not the exception, and we need to relearn how our built and natural environments can belong together,” said Jenrick.

“Instead of an unpredictable, bureaucratic planning system, which shuts out smaller developers and self-builders, we should have a freer process where it is easier to progress planning applications for well-designed places. I will look carefully at the suggestion of a ‘fast track for beauty’.

“Sir Roger was right to say that ‘what matters as much to us as the house in which we live is the one next door to it’.

“This government will level up across this country and make sure that beautiful, well-designed homes and places are the expectation, not the exception,” Jenrick added.

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