Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Report calls on UK to ‘build beautiful’

Report calls on UK to ‘build beautiful’

WELL-designed, high quality homes and tree-lined streets of the kind familiar to Henley residents should be the norm and not the exception, according to the government’s secretary of state for housing.

Robert Jenrick MP was speaking at the launch last week of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission’s final report.

Titled “Living with Beauty”, the independent report was overseen by the philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, who died in January, and Create Streets founding director Nicholas Boys Smith.

It contains more than 130 practical recommendations to support the creation of more beautiful communities. These include:

• Planting millions of trees over the next five years, as well as opening old canals and supporting every home to have its own or access to a fruit tree.

• Speeding up the planning process for beautiful buildings through a new “fast track for beauty” rule for councils.

• Increasing democracy and involving communities in local plans and planning applications — including using digital technology like virtual reality and 3D modelling to help locals shape their own areas.

Speaking at the Garden Museum in Lambeth last Thursday (January 30), Mr Jenrick welcomed the report’s publication.

He said: “Today’s report is important for many reasons, not least because of the powerful argument it makes that a sense of place still matters — and, arguably, in our fast-paced, globalised world, matters perhaps more than ever.

“It recognises that our identities go hand in hand with the places and neighbourhoods in which we live and work.

“That’s why beautiful, high-quality homes must become the norm, not the exception.”

Mr Jenrick said there was plenty of evidence that rather than holding
house-building back “championing quality would help us go further”.

He added: “I am interested in the proposal of a ‘fast track for beauty’. Where individuals and developers have put in the time to create proposals for well-designed buildings, which use high quality materials and take account of their local setting, it can’t be right their planning applications are held up.

“I too want to see a return to planting more trees. We set out in our manifesto that we will expect all new streets to be lined with trees and are working to make this commitment a reality.

“I want to see zero-carbon homes being built as standard within five years as we learn again how our built and natural environments can work in harmony.

“And the report is right that local authorities will need to play a leading role in this design revolution. We will need to ensure they have the right skills and leadership to fully carry out their role as place-makers.

“I am therefore determined to do all I can to help achieve the goal set out in the report’s conclusion — that we should aspire to pass on our heritage, the best of who we are and what we have, to our successors, not depleted but enhanced.

“Today’s report is the latest step in the government’s commitment to delivering one million well-designed, quality homes by the end of this parliament.

“Some of the recommendations are already under way, with a national design guide published by the housing Sscretary last October and a new national model design code currently in production.”

The government will issue its full response to the report in due course.

Copies of the report are available to download free of charge. Visit the government’s website at www.gov.uk and search under “building better”.

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