Sector - Housing

Commission publishes interim report

The independent advisory body, Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, published their interim report, ‘Creating space for beauty’, on Tuesday 9th July 2019, stating that retail parks and supermarkets should be converted into ‘mixed’ developments for communities.

In the report a substantial degree of importance was placed upon securing beauty during the planning stages of developments while adding that communities should be granted a more effective voice in the former stages of the planning process. The report also concerned ending the delivery of identikit homes and ‘boxland’ developments.

When focusing upon the public voice, the report explicitly identifies that the public should have more of a say throughout the planning period of developments rather than simply the opportunity to oppose planning applications.

The report also recommends that town halls encourage the redevelopment of retail parks and large supermarkets into mixed developments that are more welcoming and accessible to local communities.

Interim Chairman of the Commission, Nicholas Boys Smith stated: “Redeveloping abandoned out of town retail parks and ugly old supermarkets would deliver something much more beautiful in the form of thriving new communities where people can raise a family, work or settle down.

“Our initial report sets many ways we can make our country more beautiful while fulfilling the needs of future generations who will need a roof over their head. We need to move the democracy up-stream from development control to plan-making.”

To aid in the introduction of these new ‘mixed-use’ developments, it is suggested in the report that the aforementioned ‘boxland’ developments should be revisited and revitalised while it is also recommended that new public transport schemes should be put into place so as to reduce reliance upon cars.

The report goes into great depth to analyse the reasoning behind ugly developments and public mistrust while, again, calling for communities to be given an earlier say in the planning process as well as encouraging the greater use of master-planning.

In response to the report, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP stated: “I am determined to reach our target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, but it’s right that we do not do this at any expense – what is built must stand the test of time.

“We owe it to the next generation to not just build more homes, but to build communities people can be proud of. As a country, we should not shy away from talking about what building beautifully means – and this report is an important contribution to that discussion.”

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