The Government, both in its manifesto and in the recent Housing White Paper, committed itself to a step change in the delivery of high quality new homes across the country. Unfortunately, the recent Place Alliance report puts those aspirations in doubt because of a worsening design skills gap in English local planning authorities. It demonstrates that urban design skills and capacity within local planning authorities are woefully low and declining and that these gaps are not being filled by the patchy, albeit increasing, use of Design Review. Critical gaps exist within local planning authorities, including the ability to produce proactive design guidance in-house to positively shape the future of new housing developments. Understanding the role of councillors in this, by allocating resources, establishing priorities and focusing on the quality of places is an important next step to understanding and influencing the field.
For too long we have been building too few homes and those that we build are often of a quality that unites local communities in opposition against them. Understanding the role of local politicians as regards the design of new housing development: their aspirations, motivations, mode of operating and frustrations, was the purpose of this national survey. This research asks, how are our local politicians playing their part in helping to deliver better design?
You can read about the findings of this research here.