New prime minister should focus on building ‘beautiful homes’

A leading think tank has called on whoever becomes the next prime minister to focus on building ‘beautiful homes and places’ in a bid to tackle the housing crisis.

In a new report, Policy Exchange has set out a series of policy ideas for whoever succeeds Theresa May at Number 10, including a number of recommendations around housing and planning.

In particular, it calls for developers to be given more incentives to build ‘beautiful’ homes and places by objectively defining what is meant by ‘good design’ in the National Planning Policy Framework.

According to the report, a greater emphasis on building beautiful homes will help overcome ‘nimbyism’ in many areas, where the public ‘generally take a dim view of new developments’.

‘Research shows that the public really care about beautiful buildings and places in their area — both the preservation of old ones and the construction of new ones — but they are rarely afforded a say on what is built around them,’ the report says.

It also quotes polling commissioned by Policy Exchange, which show 84% of people believe better designed buildings and public spaces can improve people’s quality of life and happiness.

The think tank also argues that the next prime minister should increase the number of homes that are purpose-built for older people, which would make ‘downsizing’ a more worthwhile and attractive option for many baby boomers.

It also recommends the next government aim to replace the Help to Buy scheme ‘in the next few years’ and launch a strategic review of how Whitehall could help first-time buyers get on the property ladder.

The report also reiterates a point first made by Policy Exchange in March that the next government needs to help build 15 new ‘millennial’ towns in commuting distance of London to help young people priced out of the capital’s property market.

In order to do this, it argues that there should be a new Whitehall ministry — the Department for Growth — which could work with the mayor of London and developers to build the new towns.

‘It is essential that each new town is beautiful with quality controlled through the development’s masterplan and design code,’ the report states.

‘The level of and access to Green Belt land can be protected when swapping land uses in the local area.’

The full report — What do we want from the next prime minister? — is available to read here. 

Photo by KarstenBergmann (Pixabay)


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