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Last edited 22 Jul 2021
Building Beautiful Places plan
On 20 July 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government introduced an initiative intended to improve the environmental and aesthetic aspects of rural village and city centre development. Referred to as the Building Beautiful Places plan, the programme incorporates a range of measures including an update of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the introduction of the National Model Design Code (NMDC) and the creation of the Office for Place.
Under the NPPF and the NMDC, residents and planners will have the tools and knowledge to create acceptable design codes and reject unsuitable, unacceptable or unsustainable design proposals for their communities. To support the use of design codes, the Government created the Office for Place within the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.
 Emphasis on local involvement
The Building Beautiful Places plan encourages members of the local community to become involved in decision making associated with the economic development process. It is meant to improve community infrastructure, prioritise high quality neighbourhood design and support walking and cycling to boost physical health and mental wellbeing.
As part of the Building Beautiful Places initiative, the NPPF has been amended to urge all councils to develop a local design code (an illustrated design guide that sets the standard for a local area) with input from local people. The changes to the NPPF set an expectation that good quality design should be approved and includes an environmental commitment to ensure that all streets are lined with trees and that biodiversity and access to nature through design will be improved.
These measures mean the word “beauty” will be specifically included in planning rules for the first time since the system was created in 1947. Greater emphasis will also be placed on instilling a sense of local pride within the community.
The process for creating a local design code has been outlined in the NMDC. It provides advice to local planning authorities on the process for producing codes, the design parameters and issues that need to be considered and tailored to their own context when producing local design codes and guides. It also includes methods to capture and reflect the views of the local community through the process by the use of digital tools, social media, face-to-face workshops, roundtables and exhibitions.
 Reducing Invalid Planning Applications (RIPA) app
The RIPA app for homeowners, architects and developers uses simple language and diagrams to visualise local plans. It asks a series of questions, and determines whether proposals meet local and national requirements. Users can then apply within the app for the certificate they need to show their plans are permitted.
 Back office Planning System (BoPS) app
The BoPS app for council planning helps officials manage permitted development applications – tracking progress and putting the information they need to make decisions in a user-friendly format. The app emphasises data rather than documents, which is meant to help planners make decisions efficiently and effectively.
Responding to the Building Beautiful Places plan announcements, Philip Box, Public Affairs and Policy Officer at UKGBC said, “We welcome the changes announced to the new National Model Design Code, which have incorporated many of our suggestions in terms of both the areas of sustainability covered and the levels of guidance provided. We also welcome the general direction of travel evident in the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework. However, it is disappointing to see that suggestions to go further, in order to comprehensively align the NPPF with achieving our national net zero target, delivering climate adaptation and biodiversity recovery through development, were not taken forward.
"As the Government continues with its planning reforms, and local planning authorities begin to develop local design codes, we look forward to continuing to provide our expertise and engaging with the Government in order to ensure the planning system supports the delivery of net zero and our wider environmental objectives for a more sustainable built environment."
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Build back better.
- Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission interim report.
- Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.
- Future Homes Standard.
- National Model Design Code.
- National planning policy framework NPPF.
- Office for place.
- Pilot programme for National Model Design Code NMDC.
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