New commission to champion beautiful buildings

The Government has launched a new commission to champion beautiful and better-designed buildings.

The ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ Commission will develop a vision and practical measures to help ensure new developments meet the needs and expectations of communities, making them more likely to be welcomed rather than resisted.

This move follows the Government recently changing the planning rulebook to strengthen expectations for design quality and community engagement when planning for development.

The new rules also ensure more consideration can be given to the character of the local area.

Eminent writer and philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton has been appointed to chair the commission, with further commissioners to be announced in due course.

This commission will take that work further by expanding on the ways in which the planning system can encourage and incentivise a greater emphasis on design, style and community consent. It will raise the level of debate regarding the importance of beauty in the built environment.

The commission has three aims:

  • To promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets, to reflect what communities want, building on the knowledge and tradition of what they know works for their area.
  • To explore how new settlements can be developed with greater community consent.
  • To make the planning system work in support of better design and style, not against it.

‘Most people agree we need to build more for future generations, but too many still feel that new homes in their local area just aren’t up to scratch,’ said communities secretary, James Brokenshire.

‘Part of making the housing market work for everyone is helping to ensure that what we build, is built to last. That it respects the integrity of our existing towns, villages and cities.

‘This will become increasingly important as we look to create a number of new settlements across the country and invest in the infrastructure and technology they will need to be thriving and successful places,’ added Mr Brokenshire.

‘This commission will kick start a debate about the importance of design and style, helping develop practical ways of ensuring new developments gain the consent of communities, helping grow a sense of place, not undermine it. This will help deliver desperately needed homes — ultimately building better and beautiful will help us build more.’

Welcoming the announcement, the director of the think tank Policy Exchange, Dean Godson said: ‘We know from our research and polling that local support for development increases across all income groups when beauty is made a priority and this commission represents a fantastic first step.

‘Placing beauty at the heart of housing policy is the biggest idea in a generation.’


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