Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission: Planning Proposals

A series of proposals to local planning policies have been announced by the Housing Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP following a report by the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

The announcement proposes a new way of approaching development focussing on community, heritage, sustainability and beauty and empowers councils to reject planning applications on the basis of “ugliness”, lack of quality or ones that do not preserve local heritage.

There are proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF”) which will increase focus on quality, design and the environment in planning and will specifically include the word “beauty” within the planning rules. Following the Commission’s recommendations, the NPPF will emphasise the role of planning to protect and enhance the environment and the importance of well-designed, beautiful spaces in sustainable development.

Other changes to the NPPF include:

  • tightening of Article 4 directions;
  • clarification on the number of affordable homes required in housing developments;
  • emphasis on large-scale developments to provide sustainable transport options; and
  • setting clear expectations for housing developments to be of a high quality.

The Government have also produced a draft “National Design Code” containing a checklist of design principles for new developments and guidance on how to achieve successful design. The draft Code outlines ten characteristics of good design and focuses on areas such as the layout of streets (including an aspiration for all streets to be tree-lined), the quality of façades of buildings, the environmental performance of buildings and the importance of local heritage and architecture in new design.

Using the National Design Code as a guide, every Council will be encouraged to create their own design codes with local communities central to the process. These codes will be publically available and will be heavily influenced by community engagement through an accessible system of consultation with the public.

To support councils and communities with these design codes, the Government has created an “Office of Place” to “pioneer design and beauty within the planning system”. This is currently in an interim phase but the intention is for the department to be running within the year.

Crucially, the future of planning under these proposals is focussed on local issues and creating spaces that will be beautiful today and in the future.

For further information, please contact Christine de Ferrars Green or Claire O’Reilly.

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