Local authorities must pay more attention to design

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In a speech at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Planning Convention, Kit Malthouse said that we should be building the “conservation areas of the future” rather than repeating the mistakes of the 1960s by building houses that will be demolished within 50 years

At the Planning Convention, the RTPI also recognised the importance of design by launching a new report which offers recommendations for improving design quality and placemaking through planning.

Minister of state for housing, Kit Malthouse, said: “The housebuilding industry has a problem because we know that 60-odd % of people don’t want to buy their product because of the way it looks. They would prefer a second-hand product – in many cases, they would prefer a 15th or 16thhand product.

“Humans don’t want blank ubiquity, they want detail and soul and vernacular, and a sense of belonging and harmony with what is around them. I think that local authority planners and civic leaders will have to pay much more attention to design quality and aesthetics.”

As well as better design, Malthouse outlined three other parts of his vision for housing:

  • Build more houses and ensure they are more varied and of a higher quality
  • Post-Grenfell, ensure that a new safety culture for the built environment is integral to the entire design and development process
  • Introduce higher environmental standards in buildings by, for example, allowing more space for the natural world and adopting new technology

In his speech, Malthouse also signalled his desire to see the return of strategic long-term planning, calling for 10, 15 and 20-year strategic plans that address infrastructure and housing, and are able to ‘escape the handbrakes of the short-term political cycle.’

Other highlights of the RTPI Planning Convention included a speech by Mark Prisk MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on housing.

In his opening speech, RTPI president Ian Tant launched the Institute’s ‘Resource Planning for Climate Action’ campaign, calling on the government to give more resources and powers to local planning authorities to tackle climate change.

The RTPI also launched new reports looking at the corporate and strategic influence of planning in local authorities, and the size and structure of the planning profession in the UK.

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