Design & Architecture

News and in-depth coverage of urban design & architecture for town planners.

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Latest Design & Architecture News

The developer's image of the block in Job's Yard, Kettering. Image: Marcus Fielding

High Court orders developer to demolish six-storey block of flats built without planning permission

The High Court has ordered a developer to completely demolish an unfinished six-storey block of flats that is now at “risk of collapse” for breaching its planning permission, after the local authority granted consent for just four storeys to be built.

The DLUHC building in central London

Exemptions to ‘planning prohibition’ building safety rules set out in new guidance

Schemes granted planning permission before early July "may be" exempted from the new "planning prohibition" power that can prevent developers building out planning consents if they have failed to sign up to new building safety rules, according to fresh government guidance.

A visualisation of the proposed scheme (Pic: Sphere Entertainment)

Mayor cites ‘bulky’ design in rejecting plans for 90m-high Vegas-style sphere in east London

The mayor of London has rejected plans for a 90-metre-high Las Vegas-style sphere in east London on design, heritage and amenity grounds, despite the local authority having been “minded” to approve the scheme.

Marks and Spencer Oxford Street as it is now with (inset) plans for its future (Credit: SAVE Britain)

M&S given leave to progress judicial review of Gove’s refusal of flagship Oxford Street store revamp

Retail giant Marks & Spencer has been given permission by the High Court to progress its judicial review of levelling up secretary Michael Gove’s controversial decision to block plans for the demolition and rebuilding of its flagship Oxford Street store.

Tower Hamlets town hall. Image: GrindtXX licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Borough moots allowing for tall buildings in ‘wider range of locations’

A London borough has issued a draft local plan which proposes to cater for taller buildings in “a wider range of locations”.

Clove Crescent in Tower Hamlets, where the appeal site is located (Pic: Danny Robinson CC BY-SA 2.0)

Inspector gives go-ahead for 36-storey mixed-use London Docklands scheme

An inspector has granted permission for a huge mixed-use scheme in east London, comprising two residential towers and over 700 student rooms, attributing “very significant” weight to the scheme’s “much needed” housing provision and the “wider national” benefits of a proposed data centre.

Latest Design & Architecture Comment

Beauty is in the eye of the developer, unless planners and politicians set the ground rules, by Graeme Bell

Developers want to maximise profits and planning officers are under pressure from the government to build homes. Is it any wonder houses are small and crammed, says our columnist

Will planners ever be able to re-create something as beautiful as Welwyn Garden City, by Graeme Bell

Garden cities have the space and greenery their masterminds originally intended - but can this be sustained when there is so much pressure to build homes, asks our columnist.

Legal Viewpoint: Court resets the rulebook for tall buildings in London, by Roy Pinnock

Tall buildings have proliferated over the past ten years outside areas defined as clusters for height. The response in London has been to set a plan-led approach in the 2021 London Plan. At first blush this looks restrictive, but a recent High Court judgment makes it easier for schemes to pass through the eye of the policy needle.

Bijou budget means the Office for Place may struggle to beautify building, by Joey Gardiner

Nicholas Boys Smith’s new unit has been talked up by ministers, but faces a massive job for a small and newly-formed team.

Why the government's national design code and guidance lack the bite to improve housing quality, by Joey Gardiner

The government has finally published its long-awaited National Model Design Code. But its lack of proscription means that housing quality is unlikely to improve until councils start producing their own local design codes.

How to make a success of local design guides, by Graeme Bell

As the government starts to encourage local authorities to produce design guides, buy-in from all stakeholders is needed to create more beautiful and locally distinctive places.

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Design & Architecture In Depth

tower being built

The planning challenges raised by the government’s tougher-than-expected requirement for high-rise flats to include second staircases

The government has announced that the threshold over which tall residential buildings have to include a second staircase will be much lower than the height it previously proposed. Observers say the change of heart is causing “significant” delays to new homes and is likely to result in more work for council planning teams.

Highland Road in Hillingdon

Why a court ruling that an area’s ‘character’ goes beyond appearance is important for planning suburban development

A Court of Appeal judge’s ruling that a proposed development that did not materially change a building’s exterior could still harm an area’s “character and appearance” should make it easier for councils to resist proposals that are likely to change suburban areas, say experts.

View at construction site with unfinished residential buildings against blue sky, London. Image: Getty

Why developers are in planning limbo awaiting new rules requiring second staircases in high-rise flats

The government has consulted on fire safety proposals requiring a second staircase in new residential schemes over 30 metres in height but has not yet published its updated regulations. The uncertainty has resulted in developers pausing plans for more than 100,000 new homes, according to researchers.

Hull Royal Infirmary pic

Award for design excellence

WINNER: Hull Royal Infirmary New Main Entrance and Paediatric Department, submitted by Race Cottam Associates; HIGHLY COMMENDED: York Way Estate, submitted by Maccreanor Lavington