Brokenshire's Beauty Commission Runs into Difficulties

Fri 9 Nov 2018
Policy Exchange Issue 8

The beauty commission, set up last week by Minister James Brokenshire, has run into difficulties. The choice by Roger Scruton, the Alf Garnet of architecture to chair the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission was met with protest.

How will the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission affect planning and design?
Its purpose is to tackle the challenge of poor-quality design and build of homes and places across the country and help ensure we do so with popular consent. The Commission will gather evidence from both the public and private sector to develop practical policy solutions to ensure the design and style of new developments, including new settlements and the country’s high streets, help to grow a sense of community and place, not undermine it.

The Commission has three aims:

  1. Promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets to reflect what communities want
  2. Explore how new settlements can be developed with greater community consent
  3. Make the planning system work in support of better design and style

The commission builds on the Policy Exchange report, co-written by Sir Roger. It calls for a greater emphasis on ‘beauty’ in the planning system. We hear again what is widely accepted, i.e. that ‘the model of major housebuilders depends on gaining returns on capital investment in the land market’. Even the Government supporting Policy Exchange admit that movements in policy towards the land market are ‘limited’. As a result good design is often an afterthought. In too many cases, the design of new homes is led by the business model of the developer – to squeeze as many homes as possible into a certain floor area at the quickest timescale and at the lowest rate that can be afforded.

Cover image: Table from Policy Exchange report, Building More, Building Beautiful

Until next week. Please make sure to send in your ideas to
Author: Jane Briginshaw, Design England 

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