National ‘beautiful building’ proposals released
The government has launched a consultation on a proposed national design code for buildings in England.
The publication of the draft code is the latest step in Whitehall’s far-reaching shake-up of England’s planning system, which is expected to see all local authorities required to divide up their jurisdiction into defined areas for growth, renewal or protection.
As part of this goal, authorities must set out local plans for development, drawn up with community involvement, that include local design codes.
The draft national code provides a model for how local authorities should tackle their design oversight role under the new regime, offering a checklist focused on topics such as street character, wellbeing and environmental impact.
The government added that a new ‘Office for Place’ will be established within the next 12 months to support the rollout of local design codes.
The consultation on the national code, which closes on 27 March, also covers revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework proposed in response to last year’s report from the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission.
In a statement, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said its policy revisions “will set an expectation that good quality design will be approved while poor quality will be rejected, and includes a commitment to ensure that all streets are lined with trees”.
It added: “The measures mean the word ‘beauty’ will be specifically included in planning rules for the first time since the system was created in 1947.”
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said the latest proposals “will enable local people to set the rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our local character and identity”.
He added: “Instead of developers forcing plans on locals, they will need to adapt to proposals from local people, ensuring that current and new residents alike will benefit from beautiful homes in well-designed neighbourhoods.”
Nicholas Boys Smith, who co-chaired the commission on beauty, and was appointed by Jenrick to chair a national design body steering group, will also chair the transition board of the interim Office for Place.
Federation of Master Builders (FMB) chief executive Brian Berry said: “Whilst policy agendas on beauty and environmental provisions are important, the government must do more to remove the structural barriers that local housebuilders are currently facing. This should include investing in local authority planning departments so that they can make decisions more quickly and get Britain building.”
He added that the government should also enact a recommendation from Building Better Building Beautiful Commission that VAT on home improvement works should be cut from 20 per cent to 5 per cent. “As the commission reports, cutting VAT will stimulate the repair, maintenance and improvement market, creating jobs and an economic boost.”
Alan Jones, president of architecture body RIBA, said: “A new national design guide will not solve the crisis of quality alone. The government must break down the monopoly held by a small group of developers who often put upfront cost ahead of longer-term value, and provide tougher sanctions to those who bend regulations to prioritise profit over people’s health and wellbeing.”
If you’re planning your own ‘beautiful’ extension or build, please contact us here at Sherratt Builders to discuss on 01743 791815 or 07786 268435.