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Last edited 21 Jul 2021
Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission interim report
- Retail parks and supermarkets could be turned into new ‘mixed’ developments for communities.
- There should be greater weight placed on securing beauty in the planning system, for communities to be given an early and more effective voice in the planning process to help end ‘identikit’ homes and ‘boxland’ developments.
- The public should have a more effective say in their area’s housing plans rather than just fighting planning applications.
The wide-ranging report suggested that town halls should encourage the redevelopment of retail parks and large supermarkets into communities that include homes, shops and businesses. These new ‘mixed use’ communities should be supported by new public transport to reduce reliance on cars and should be part of plans to revisit ‘boxland’ developments.
The report also examines the fundamental reasons for ugly developments and public mistrust, and calls for communities to be given an earlier say in the development process, encouraging greater use of master-planning rather than communities engaging in ‘planning by appeal’.
Other recommendations include:
- Councils should have confidence in ‘saying no to ugliness’ – with authorities celebrating examples of bad schemes they have turned down.
- Any financial support from Homes England and local councils for a development should ‘aim for beauty’ with more work required to understand how this might be achieved and measured.
- Improved and earlier public and stakeholder engagement in the design standards councils set developers in local plans so they can demand better quality.
- High streets should be beautiful, walkable, well-connected places for people to live and work with a greater mix of buildings that includes smaller shops, businesses and homes.
- Different layers of local government should come together and set out a vision for development which reflects local geography, culture and economic priorities.
Interim Chairman of the Commission, Nicholas Boys Smith said:
“Redeveloping abandoned out-of-town retail parks and ugly old supermarkets would deliver something much more beautiful in the form of thriving new communities where people can raise a family, work or settle down.
“Beauty should not be just a property of the old buildings or protected landscapes but something we expect from new buildings, places and settlements. We need to deliver beauty for everyone, not just the wealthy. This will require, ultimately, some fundamental changes. Hopefully our report will start part of that important debate with the public and the professions."
“I am determined to reach our target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, but it’s right that we do not do this at any expense – what is built must stand the test of time. We owe it to the next generation to not just build more homes, but to build communities people can be proud of. As a country, we should not shy away from talking about what building beautifully means – and this report is an important contribution to that discussion.”
The Commission was established by the Communities Secretary The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP. It is led by the interim-chairman Nicholas Boys-Smith (founding director of Create Streets), along with Gail Mayhew (advisor to Urban Catalyst and property consultant) and Mary Parsons (chair and trustee of the Town and Country Planning Association). For more information see: Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- BRE Group response to the Future Homes Standard consultation.
- Building Beautiful Places plan.
- Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.
- Changing lifestyles.
- Future Homes Standard.
- Green housing revolution.
- National Design Guide.
- Neighbourhood planning.
- Pilot programme for National Model Design Code NMDC.
- Place-shaping: a shared ambition for the future of local government.
- Richard Rogers - A Place for all People.
- Towards an Urban Renaissance.
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