Building beautiful – Who is to decide what’s beautiful?

building beautiful

The building better, building beautiful commission is an independent body that advised government on how to promote and increase the use of high -quality design for new build homes and neighbourhoods. In the eyes of the Commission, building beautifully, comprises walkable, human-scale developments, buildings with finely textured designs and materials.

The report centres around the fact that building more homes shouldn’t just be a numbers game, but making vibrant places, full of character which people enjoy living and working in. In theory, well-designed development proposals should be better supported by councils whilst achieving higher returns for developers, whilst providing better places to live and work. However, more often than not, development is actually driven by utility and convenience, and all this does is create a mediocre landscape of bland, square buildings.

The problem is, who actually determines what is beautiful? Beauty is extremely subjective and so what is deemed beautiful by one person or community, isn’t necessarily by the next. The initial report tasked communities, planners, architects and developers to decide together what actually constitutes beautiful – A risky task if stakeholder tastes were completely misaligned.

More recently, the government has set-out to put beauty and design at the heart of the local planning system. The system has been amended so that local people are empowered to set standards for beauty and design in their area through local design codes. These codes will reflect their area’s unique aesthetics, culture and heritage, with tree lined streets accompanying new developments.

The new Framework is fundamental to ensuring local authorities and communities can shape and deliver beautiful places to live and work, with a greater emphasis on quality, design and the environment than ever before. The framework ensures that communities are more meaningfully engaged in how new development happens, that local authorities are given greater confidence in turning down schemes which do not meet locally set standards, and greater certainty to those schemes that do. This is part of the Government’s programme of improving the planning system to put high quality, environmentally friendly design front and centre of new development.

Policy changes will ensure the system helps to create buildings that fit in with places, while maintaining the Framework’s existing strong focus on delivering the homes and other development which communities need. The changes:

  • Make beauty and place-making a strategic theme in the Framework
  • Set out the expectation that local authorities produce their own design codes and guides setting out design principles which new development in their areas should reflect
  • Ask for new streets to be tree-lined
  • Improve biodiversity and access to nature through design
  • Put an emphasis on approving good design as well as refusing poor quality schemes

If you require any support with the planning process, please contact us now: 01242 231575.


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