Brokenshire appeals to “beauty” in drive to build more homes

WRITER and philosopher Sir Roger Scruton is to chair a commission that will look at injecting a little “beauty” into the built environment – so that more homes can be built.

The notion behind the new commission, announced by communities secretary James Brokenshire, is that by encouraging better design and quality in build, communities will be more amenable to the construction of new homes.

“Most people agree we need to build more for future generations, but too many still feel that new homes in their local area just aren’t up to scratch,” said communities secretary James Brokenshire MP.

Sir Roger Scruton
Professor Sir Roger Scruton by Peter Helme. Creative Commons CC-by-SA 3.0

“Part of making the housing market work for everyone is helping to ensure that what we build, is built to last. That it respects the integrity of our existing towns, villages and cities.

“This will become increasingly important as we look to create a number of new settlements across the country and invest in the infrastructure and technology they will need to be thriving and successful places.”

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission will, says the Ministry of Housing, develop a vision, along with practical measures to help ensure new developments meet the needs and expectations of communities, “making them more likely to be welcomed rather than resisted”.

This commission will at expanding on the ways in which the planning system can “encourage and incentivise” a greater emphasis on design, style and community consent. It is intended to raise the level of debate regarding the importance of “beauty” in the built environment.

The commission’s three aims are:

  1. To promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets, to reflect what communities want, building on the knowledge and tradition of what they know works for their area
  2. To explore how new settlements can be developed with greater community consent
  3. To make the planning system work in support of better design and style, not against it

Brokenshire added: “This commission will kick start a debate about the importance of design and style, helping develop practical ways of ensuring new developments gain the consent of communities, helping grow a sense of place, not undermine it. This will help deliver desperately needed homes – ultimately building better and beautiful will help us build more.”

The idea for the commission has emerged from work carried out by the right-of-centre thinktank, Policy Exchange, which sought to highlight the importance of “beauty” in the built environment.

The thinktank’s director, Dean Godson, said: “We know from our research and polling that local support for development increases across all income groups when beauty is made a priority and this commission represents a fantastic first step. Placing beauty at the heart of housing policy is the biggest idea in a generation.”

Professor Sir Roger Scruton is an author of over 40 books. In his work as a philosopher he has specialised in aesthetics with particular attention to music and architecture. He has written several works of fiction, as well as memoirs and essays on topics of general interest.

He teaches on both sides of the Atlantic, and engages in contemporary political and cultural debates from the standpoint of a conservative thinker. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the British Academy.

His fellow commission members are to be announced in due course, the Ministry of Housing said.



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