On 30 January, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced new proposals that will empower local authorities to enhance new developments, and emphasise beauty and placemaking in planning

The Green Heart, University of Birmingham: winner of the 2020 Landscape Institute Excellence in Landscape Construction Award. Image: Churchman Thornhill Finch

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has outlined changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that will make beauty and placemaking a strategic policy, line new streets with trees, and improve biodiversity and access to nature through design.

The news came on Saturday 30 January from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MCHLG), who also announced:

  • the publication of a draft national design code
  • the creation of a new ‘Office for Place’, who will begin work within the year to help councils develop and implement unique local design codes and standards

The proposed revisions follow the publication of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission’s report,¬†Living with Beauty, in January 2020. The report called for ‘beauty [to be] an essential condition for the grant of planning permission.’

The Landscape Institute (LI) welcomes the announcement; in particular, the promised focus on placemaking-led planning, which the LI has long argued for. Placemaking and beauty do not exclude or undermine other important outcomes, such as climate resilience, biodiversity loss, and health inequality. In fact, when approached correctly, placemaking addresses all these concerns and more. Though MHCLG has yet to offer further detail, this is in principle a very positive step forward.

We fully support the intention to increase the number of trees in new developments. A national policy on tree-lined streets is a positive statement of intent, though the barriers to achieving this in reality – not least the issue of skills – need full consideration.

The government should also be wary that creeping permitted development rights do not thwart its ambitions. In our response last November to the Planning White Paper Consultation, the LI cautioned that new permitted development routes could lower the standard of design.

The LI will respond in full to the draft NPPF and National Model Design Code by the consultation deadline of 27 March. If you would like to input into our policy response, please email the LI policy team at policy@landscapeinstitute.org.

1 COMMENT

  1. This sounds more encouraging and an emphasise on beauty and placemaking in planning is long overdue. Similar strong commitment is also needed in agriculture and forestry – not much sign of it recently!

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