The Government has appointed controversial writer and academic Sir Roger Scruton to chair a commission to “champion beautiful buildings” as part of the drive to build 300,000 homes a year to address the housing crisis.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said the commission “will develop a vision and practical measures to help ensure new developments meet the needs and expectations of communities, making them more likely to be welcomed rather than resisted”.
The Department of Communities said the move follows the Government “rewriting the planning rulebook to strengthen expectations for design quality and community engagement when planning for development. The new rules also ensure more consideration can be given to the character of the local area”.
This commission “will take that work further by expanding on the ways in which the planning system can encourage and incentivise a greater emphasis on design, style and community consent. It will raise the level of debate regarding the importance of beauty in the built environment”.
The commission has three aims:
- To promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets, “reflecting what communities want”.
- To explore how new settlements can be developed “with greater community consent”.
- To make the planning system work “in support of better design and style, not against it.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire MP said: “Most people agree we need to build more for future generations, but too many still feel that new homes in their local area just aren’t up to scratch.
“This will become increasingly important as we look to create a number of new settlements across the country and invest in the infrastructure and technology they will need to be thriving and successful places.”
He concluded: “This commission will kick start a debate about the importance of design and style, helping develop practical ways of ensuring new developments gain the consent of communities, helping grow a sense of place, not undermine it.”
Sir Roger Scruton is well known for promoting classical architecture and has taught at institutions including Birkbeck College, Boston University, and more recently, the University of Buckingham.
A month-long series of events co-ordinated by think tank Policy Exchange has been launched to “showcase the importance of beauty in the built environment”.
Image by Elekes Andor