Government mulls ‘beauty fast track’ for quality homes
Image: Dreamstime/I Wei Huang
Beautiful, high-quality homes should be the “norm” and could be fast-tracked through planning, according to housing secretary Robert Jenrick, who has welcomed the launch of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission’s final report.
The report, entitled Living in beauty, calls for the creation of more beautiful communities, with tree-lined streets. The commission that produced it was led by the late Sir Roger Scruton and Nicholas Boys Smith.
It contains over 130 practical recommendations to support the creation of more beautiful communities, including:
- planting millions of trees over the next five years, as well as opening old canals and supporting every home to have its own or access to a fruit tree
- speeding up the planning process for beautiful buildings through a new ‘Fast Track for Beauty’ rule for councils
- increasing democracy and involving communities in local plans and planning applications, including using digital technology like virtual reality and 3D modelling to help locals shape their own areas.
Welcoming the report at the Garden Museum, Lambeth, Jenrick will say: “Today’s report is important for many reasons, not least because of the powerful argument it makes that a sense of place still matters – and, arguably, in our fast-paced, globalised world, matters perhaps more than ever.
“It recognises that our identities go hand in hand with the places and neighbourhoods in which we live and work.
“That’s why beautiful, high-quality homes must become the norm, not the exception.”
Jenrick said that there was evidence that instead of holding housebuilding back “championing quality would help us go further”.
He added: “I am interested in the proposal of a ‘fast track for beauty’. Where individuals and developers have put in the time to create proposals for well-designed buildings, which use high-quality materials and take account of their local setting, it can’t be right their planning applications are held up.
“I too want to see a return to planting more trees. We set out in our manifesto that we will expect all new streets to be lined with trees and are working to make this commitment a reality.
“I want to see zero-carbon homes being built as standard within five years as we learn again how our built and natural environments can work in harmony.
“And the report is right that local authorities will need to play a leading role in this design revolution. We will need to ensure they have the right skills and leadership to fully carry out their role as place-makers.”