Hard on the heels of the Government’s ‘National Design Guide’ issued in October 2019, MHCLG has indicated that they will be issuing a ‘Design Code’ in the near future to guide developers and housebuilders on design issues – which will doubtless be used by local authorities to determine local interpretations of design guidance, writes John Acres.
The LPDF will be represented at the launch of the final ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ report on Thursday 30th January, which is likely to focus on the key elements expected to create a more ‘beautiful’ townscape – a theme developed in the draft report issued by co-chairman Nicolas Boys Smith and Sir Roger Scruton in June 2019. (NB. Sir Roger Scruton sadly died earlier this month).
The LPDF was also represented at the launch of the West Midlands Combined Authority ‘Design Charter’ by Mayor Andy Street, in Birmingham on 23rd January. The short Design Charter comprises a statement with six themes of: Character, Connectivity and Mobility, Future Readiness, Health & Wellbeing, Engagement & Stewardship and Delivery. The WMCA hopes that it will be adopted by all constituent councils in the metropolitan sub-region in due course. Take a look here: https://www.wmca.org.uk/media/3647/wmdesigncharter.pdf
In a separate report produced by UCL on behalf of the HBF and CPRE, the Housing Design Audit has concluded that of the 142 schemes assessed by expert auditors from around the country, 75% were either ‘poor’ or mediocre’, a slight improvement on the equivalent 2003-2007 study undertaken by CABE. (However, in a classic ‘glass half full’ v ‘glass half empty’ dichotomy, 80% were either ‘mediocre’ or ‘good/very good’, demonstrating that interpretation of results is everything). More worryingly, however, the report shows that less prosperous areas were 10 times more likely to have poorer designed schemes.
At a launch of the Housing Design Audit by Place Alliance on 21st January, attended by LPDF, it was clear both that the choice of sites had been critical in influencing the results, but also that inflexible highway and parking standards had spoiled many of schemes, but where landscaping had had time to mature schemes appeared much more appealing. The report focuses on the larger volume housebuilders, but the message applies equally to developers and land promoters in producing masterplans and promoting development schemes which affect and shape the townscape and create new places. https://indd.adobe.com/view/23366ae1-8f97-455d-896a-1a9934689cd8