Increased focus on the Beauty of New Development.

21 July 2021

Changes to planning system announced.

The ministry of Housing Communities and Local government (MHCLG) has announced 20th July 2020 the following:   

  • New Office for Place to help councils and communities banish ugly developments and deliver beautiful, green homes and places using Britain’s world-class design expertise
  • Updated national planning policy framework (NPPF) published, putting beauty at the heart of the planning system
  • Publication of the National Model Design Code (NMDC) (See link at foot of page) to put communities in the driving seat of development plans and create local, binding standards

The NPPF has been updated with the aim to ensure the planning system helps to create more attractive buildings and places, while maintaining the Framework’s existing strong focus on delivering the homes and other development which communities need. The changes will:

  • make beauty and place-making a strategic theme in the NPPF
  • set out the expectation that Local Authorities produce their own design codes and guides setting out design principles which new development in their areas should reflect
  • ask for new streets to be tree-lined
  • improve biodiversity and access to nature through design

Supporting the NPPF is a new National Model Design Code - a toolkit to enable every council and community to create their own local design requirement. Guidance is provided across all aspects of new development including tree-lined streets, sustainable drainage and design to support walking and cycling.

To aid these changes becoming established the government is setting up a an Office for Place  within the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.  It will draw on Britain’s world-class design expertise to support communities to turn their visions of beautiful design into local standards all new buildings will be required to meet. 

The Office for Place will be advised by a board of experts from the planning and development industry, and will begin the work to drive up design standards now. This year it will be supporting around 20 communities who are piloting the National Model Design Code and empowering local authorities to demand beauty, design quality and placemaking through training on the principles outlined in the National Model Design Code.

Government is considering whether to establish the Office for Place as an independent body, informed by responses to the planning reform consultation.

Comment from the Society

These are significant changes.  Whilst welcoming an increased focus on the Quality of Design the Society considers that this needs to be supported with a revison to our very meagre minimum space standards.  

How all these elements of the planning system fit together need clarification with other regulations needing to be observed e.g. Cycling Standards.



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