Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission report

The highly anticipated Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission report was finally published in January 2020. 

What was included in the report? 

The report places a great emphasis improving the design and quality of built homes in England. The report entitled ‘Living with Beauty’ outlines the commission’s proposals to the government for a new development and planning framework. 

The report highlighted throughout the importance of good quality design and providing opportunities for local people to have an influence in how their neighbourhood is developed. The report emphasises Ebenezer Howard (the UK founder of the garden city movement) on how beauty cannot be achieved without the human society. 

“Human society and the beauty of nature should be enjoyed together”. 

The main recommendation is to encourage “beautiful” placemaking to be automatically enshrined into the aims of the planning system. The report also mentions in detail the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and how it aims to revise the NPPF to reference place great emphasis on “placemaking” and “good design”. 

The report references three aims to be incorporated within the planning system. They include: “Ask for Beauty”, “Refuse Ugliness” and “Promote Stewardship”. The commission stresses that by including these three aims it should allow for beauty to become the natural result of working within the planning system.  

Another topic that was discussed in the report was planning applications. The commission recommends fast tracking planning applications for developers that are able to show a commitment to quality” should thus have their development to be accepted a lot quicker through the “fast track for beauty”. 

The report advises government to enforce tighter fines for developers that breach their original planning permission. At the same time, the commission highlighted that local authorities should have the capability to set design standards for permitted development, as outlined in the commission report. This suggests that new developments that breach the conditions of their planning permission should face substantially higher fines.

“There should be more efficient management of conditions applications, of alterations and a greater probability of enforcement, with stricter sanctions where necessary”

Lastly, the commission report proposed the UK government appoints a minister, who is able to be directly involved in place making. In addition, the commission outlines the appointed minister would be able to appoint a chief place-maker for the different local authorities in England. 

To conclude, the Building Better, Building Beautiful report provides detailed information on the various key players involved in planning to deliver high-quality design for new neighbourhoods and new and improved homes. The report proposes revisions to the NPPF to ensure beauty is incorporated in the NPPF. 

We should find out how the scheme is going to be funded in the March 2020 budget. The primary concern is how these recommendations, including a stricter enforcement regime, are going to be resourced. 

We will provide you with updates as soon as we receive more information. 

Article written by Asif Hussain.


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