Government unveils new commission to build "more beautiful homes"

A new commission has been created with the aim of ensuring that new homes delivered to the UK are “up to scratch” while highlighting the importance of design and style.

The ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ Commission will develop a vision and practical measures to help ensure new developments meet the needs and expectations of communities. It will be chaired by writer and philosopher Sir Roger Scruton.

The move follows the government recently 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.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said while the central aim of the government is to get building more homes, it was also vital the homes constructed were of good enough quality. 

“Part of making the housing market work for everyone is helping to ensure that what we build, is built to last,” he said. “That it respects the integrity of our existing towns, villages and cities. 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."

Three central aims for the commission:

  • To promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets, to reflect what communities want, building on the knowledge and tradition of what they know works for their area.
  • 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.

Scruton is thought to be best placed to lead the commission as brings a wealth of expertise that fit the role. An author of over 40 books, he has worked as a philosopher specialising in aesthetics with particular attention to music and architecture. He has written several works of fiction, as well as memoirs and essays on topics of general interest.

The announcement comes as a month-long series of events coordinated by think tank Policy Exchange, to showcase the importance of beauty in the built environment, begin.

Commenting on the announcement Policy Exchange director Dean Godson said: “Placing beauty at the heart of housing policy is the biggest idea in a generation. 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. This will help deliver desperately needed homes – ultimately building better and beautiful will help us build more.”

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