Good design must be ‘at heart’ of all new housing, says Michael Gove

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

The Levelling Up Secretary hit out at “indifferent or insipid” planning and suggested that the potential of some public spaces was being squandered as a result of poor design and maintenance. His comments came in the foreword to a report by the Policy Exchange think tank arguing for the creation of a new national school of urban design and architecture.

Mr Gove said: “How often have we seen what would otherwise be good housing developments let down by poor landscaping or indifferent or insipid urban character?

“How many town centres in our great cities are still gridlocked by arterial highways that sever them from the suburban communities they are meant to both serve and represent?

“How many public spaces are poorly designed, managed and maintained, with the vibrancy their attendant public realm has the innate potential to offer duly squandered and suppressed?

“And how many of our high streets – once the vibrant commercial arteries of our shopkeeper nation but now at the mercy of seismic shifts in retail patterns and digital technology – do not fully utilise the manifest opportunities their physical infrastructure offers for alternative cultural, leisure and recreational experiences?

“Places must be at the heart of levelling up but if places themselves have no heart and soul, then levelling up too will falter.”

The Government is committed to a target of 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the decade but has so far failed to meet that goal, while efforts to boost construction have run into opposition at Westminster and the local level.

Mr Gove said: “Much of the opposition to new housing developments is often grounded in a fear that the quality of the new buildings and places created will be deficient and therefore detrimental to existing neighbourhoods and properties.

“If a general improvement in the standard of design reassures the general public that this will in fact not be the case, then they may be less likely to oppose it.”

But he acknowledged there was “no silver bullet” to solve the housing crisis, revitalise towns and cities or “instantaneously deliver a workforce imbued with the skills to make that transformation possible”.

The Policy Exchange report calls for the Government to back a new “School of Place”, arguing that if there was “a generally higher quality of architecture and placemaking then this could help diffuse much of the aesthetic opposition to new housing”.

The report says that although the school would “seek to wholeheartedly revive traditional architecture from the annals of obscurity to which contemporary architectural education has unfairly consigned it”, but it would also offer a “broad range of other stylistic approaches”.

“Such diplomacy is necessary because the unfortunate fact remains that any perceived political bias towards traditionalism would provoke an immediate and hostile reaction from many within the architectural community,” the report said.

The intake for the new school would include architects, planners, designers, engineers and consultants in an attempt to break down divisions between these fields.

Source: Read Full Article