13th August, 2021

All new developments must meet local standards of beauty, quality and design, under new proposals outlined by housing secretary Robert Jenrick
In response to the ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful‘ commission report, the government is proposing changes to the National Planning Policy framework to emphasise beauty and placemaking.

The government is also looking to publish 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.

All councils will be encouraged to publish their own unique design code, so residents have a real say in the design of new developments in their area.

Elsewhere, proposals outline the creation of an ‘Office for Place’, which will support local communities to turn their designs into the standard for all new buildings in the area.

Housebuilidng projects will be brought forward with a new Community Housing Fund which will deliver £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme, backed by £4m of support for the local plan.

Funding will also be doubled for areas under the “local heritage listing – monuments men” campaign, with up to £1.5m now available for communities to nominate local heritage sites.

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.

‘Enabling people to set the rules for what developments should look like’
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick, said: “We should aspire to pass on our heritage to our successors, not depleted but enhanced. In order to do that, we need to bring about a profound and lasting change in the buildings that we build, which is one of the reasons we are placing a greater emphasis on locally popular design, quality and access to nature, through our national planning policies and introducing the National Model Design Codes.

“These will enable local people to set the rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our local character and identity.

“Instead of developers forcing plans on locals, they will need to adapt to proposals from local people, ensuring that current and new residents alike will benefit from beautiful homes in well-designed neighbourhoods.”

The government has published a new National Model Design Code that outlines the design standards new developments are expected to meet. This provides a checklist that will guide local councils to create their own, unique, local design code, centred on genuine community involvement so residents have a real say in the design of new developments, embracing the history, culture and heritage of their local area.

In response to the government’s announcement, Victoria Hills, chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), said: “As a member of the government’s Design Steering Group, I welcome MHCLG’s commitment to good quality design.

“The RTPI has long called for design to be an integral part of the planning process. A survey in 2020 revealed that 88% of our members wanted greater powers to reject poor design but lacked the resources to do so.

“A further survey showed 61% of planners have the skills, knowledge and experience to focus on design quality but did not have enough capacity.

“I  am therefore delighted that the government has listened and pledged to not only strengthen the National Planning Framework to empower Local Planning Authorities to prioritise design and drive up quality, but has also committed to inject much-needed funding in this area.”

‘High time ministers rethink these proposals’
Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, added: “Good design and beautiful places go hand in hand with a locally led, democratic planning system.

“It is heartening to see the government putting good design at the forefront of how we build the kinds of housing and neighborhoods local communities will feel proud to call home.

“These must be low carbon neighborhoods, connected via affordable public transport bursting with green spaces and nature that are shaped by the needs of local communities.

“Sadly, the evidence tells us that this is not currently the case. The design quality of developments delivered in the past decade have been overwhelmingly mediocre or poor, with countryside communities getting the worst design of all.

“This situation looks set to worsen if the government pursues the unnecessary and damaging planning proposals currently proposed. Rather than placing local communities at the heart of the planning process, proposals in the Planning White Paper would sideline local voices and effectively halve democratic input in the planning process, inevitably worsening the quality of design.

“It’s high time ministers rethink these proposals and ensure local communities’ right to take part in planning for their local area is protected. Not doing so would undermine local democracy and frustrate all our desires for good design, long before the first brick is laid.”

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