UK Government prioritises ‘beauty’ in proposed planning rules

The UK government has recently issued a response to a report by the Build Better, Build Beautiful Commission in support of their recommendations which include a ‘fast track for beauty’, standard requirements for permitted development and the planting of trees.

Living with Beauty Report

The 190-page report titled Living with Beauty provided a critique of the UK’s built environment and recommended 45 propositions to improve the regulatory planning framework. Its three main aims were to ‘ask for beauty, refuse ugliness and promote stewardship.’ The government response comes exactly one year after the report was published.

Formed in November 2018, the Commission researched into how new housing and neighbourhoods can be developed in England without compromising on quality. Chairing the Commission was Create Streets founder Nicholas Boys Smith and the late architecture critic Roger Scruton.

A consultation has begun on new planning guidelines based on the government’s response to the report to ‘ask for beauty’ in all new developments.

The proposed measures will inform the government’s wider strategy for planning reform outlined in the Planning White Paper Planning for the Future proposal.

In response to the Living with Beauty report, the government proposes several actions.

• Firstly, the National Planning Policy Framework will be amended to prioritise beauty and placemaking.

• In support of the Commission’s ‘fast track for beauty’, the government response states they will consult with the NPPF to ensure proposals which meet local design guidance will benefit from a prompt approval.

• Following the report’s recommendations of planting trees, guidelines for achieving beauty through landscaping and urban orchards will be addressed in the amended NPPF and national design code.

• All councils will be required to publish a design code, which will enable residents to contribute to the design standards for new buildings in their community.

• The government will publish a draft national design code which will include a checklist of design principles to consider for new developments such as street character, building massing, materials and requirements addressing wellbeing.

• An RICS study identified in some instances PD Rights ‘have inadvertently permissioned future slums’. The government agrees permitted development should be required to have standards which they say has been demonstrated by mandating PD schemes to comply with national space standards and amenity issues such as daylight, sunlight and noise since September 2020.

• The government proposes a new Community Housing Fund will be opened to support community-based organisations to ‘bring forward local house building projects for the Affordable Homes Programme.’

• In support of the report’s preposition to maintain and protect existing areas of beauty, further funding will be provided to assist local communities in nominating local historic buildings for listing for inclusion in the local council’s heritage list.

• Housing secretary Robert Jenrick, stated ‘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.’

The consultation for the proposed planning rules closed on 27th March 2021.