Minister challenges developers to factor good design into their cost appraisals

Developers need to acknowledge the need for good design and factor it into their financial appraisals for new schemes, planning minister Kit Malthouse said yesterday.

Housing minister Kit Malthouse at last year's TCPA conference
Housing minister Kit Malthouse at last year's TCPA conference

Speaking at the Better Design for Better Places conference in Birmingham, organised by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Malthouse said he was starting to sense "more and more resistance to development" from communities on design grounds.

"People tend to feel that what’s plonked down in their area is somehow going to spoil the community in which they live and not enhance it," Malthouse told the conference via a video link speech.

"That is a problem for us as an industry, and the way we can obviate that is by making room for design, and making room for beauty.

"For you as developers and the house building community, you need to ask yourselves a simple question: am I building the conservation area of the future."

He went on to say: "Unless you can crack this notion of acceptability you are going to have a problem with the sheer scale of what we need to do.

"If we get 300,000 homes per year it means a million homes in construction at any one time and no part of the country left untouched.

"When you’ve got that scale across the UK, there will be a push back as people will start to feel victims of the planning and development process rather than its masters or partners.

"That’s why we are so keen to starting to have this conversation about beauty," Malthouse said.

The minister said his objective was for "a golden period of house building", and that the homes being built over the coming years would not be "bulldozed" in the future but would be "protected with preservation orders".

"I need your help to do that – as developers you need to acknowledge the need for this beauty and the need for good design, and to make space for it in development appraisals," Malthouse said.

"I am urging local planning authorities to do the same, and they need your help in order to make that difference."

The minister's speech followed an earlier talk by communities minister Lord Bourne saying the government would be judged in 50 years time by how beautiful new buildings were.

A report by the National Audit Office last week questioned the ability of the planning system to meet the government's 300,000-home per year target.

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