Beautiful, environmentally sustainable, and life-enhancing communities are at the centre of widespread planning changes, said Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick as he revealed the new National Planning Policy Framework.
The Building Beautiful Places plan will mean “good quality design will be paramount, with local communities put at the very heart of decision-making to help shape their towns and cities,” the statement said.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is being amended so that the Building Beautiful Places plan will mean residents and planners will find it easier to embrace beautiful, practical design while rejecting the ugly, unsustainable or poor quality.
The changes set an expectation that all councils should develop a local design code – an illustrated design guide that sets the standard for a local area – with input from local people.
The process, outlined in the NMDC, demonstrates how and when local communities can be involved in developing a design code, using digital tools and social media, as well as face-to-face workshops, roundtables and exhibitions.
With an increasingly digitised planning system, local people will also be able to better navigate and access the planning process with online map-based local plans – allowing people to visualise local plans for development and participate more fully in the planning system.
At a landmark Building Beautiful Places event this morning, the Secretary of State is announcing a range of measures that, taken together, will revolutionise the planning industry to enshrine quality, beauty and sustainability in the heart of local decision-making across the country from city centres to rural villages.
Greater emphasis than ever before will now be placed on quality and design in the planning system. Local communities will be fully involved in how they want new developments to look and feel, with a much greater emphasis on environmental sustainability.
The changes to the National Planning Policy Framework set an expectation that good quality design should be approved, while poor quality should be rejected and includes an environmental commitment to ensure that all streets are lined with trees.
These measures mean the word “beauty” will be specifically included in planning rules for the first time since the system was created in 1947 – echoing an era when a greater emphasis was placed on delivering attractive buildings for people that installed a sense of local pride.
Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “Today I have set out the Government’s vision for a planning system that make beautiful, sustainable and life-enhancing design a necessity, rather than a luxury.
“Our revised National Planning Policy Framework will ensure 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.
This is about putting communities – not developers – in the driving seat to ensure good quality design is the norm, and the return to a sense of stewardship – to building greener, enduringly popular homes and places that stand the test of time in every sense.
Nicholas Boys Smith, Chair of the Advisory Board for the Office for Place, added: “I am delighted to be Chairing the Advisory Board of the Office for Place. Britain has created and is creating some of the best developments in the world. But the quality achieved remains stubbornly inconsistent. We must do better, more often for the benefit of communities, to contribute to the economic success of our towns and cities and to look after our planet.
“Our vision is to help families, neighbourhoods, councils, landowners, housebuilders and developers more easily create places in which our communities can prosper. The Office for Place aims to encourage the British design and development industries to be the best ‘place-makers’ in the world aided by improving data on the discoverable links between place with happiness, health, popularity and sustainability.”
However, the CPRE has argued that good design will be impossible under the upheaval the new rules will cause. Paul Miner, head of land use and planning at CPRE, said: “Good design is crucial for healthy, thriving and low carbon communities in our countryside. That’s why it is hugely welcome to see these new design codes and the launch of the new Office for Place.
“We must turn the tide on the decades of disastrous design. Over three quarters of large housing developments scored mediocre or poor on our 2020 housing design audit with University College London. Too many of these are car dependent developments in the middle of nowhere. We’re urging the Office for Place to make reliable public transport and active travel central in creating the communities of the future.
“But the government’s disastrous planning proposals, that look set to halve democratic input in planning, will completely undermine any progress on design and design codes. Good design is impossible without local democracy and accountability in the planning system. So, if Ministers are serious about creating the beautiful places of the future, they should start by totally rethinking their planning proposals and ensure people and nature are put back at the heart of planning.”