“We should aspire to pass on our heritage to our successors, not depleted but enhanced. In order to do that, we need to bring about a profound and lasting change in the buildings that we build, which is one of the reasons we are placing a greater emphasis on locally popular design, quality and access to nature, through our national planning policies and introducing the National Model Design Codes.”
So said Robert Jenrick when announcing at the end of January 2021 the Government’s response to the report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. As well as the creation of an ‘Office for Place’, which is to support local communities in determining the standard for all new buildings in their area, the NPPF is to be revised to place greater emphasis on beauty, place-making and, of course, tree-lined streets.
In addition, a new paragraph 127 of the NPPF will state that all LPAs should prepare design guides or codes consistent with the principles set out in the National Design Guide and the new National Model Design Code (NMDC).
The NMDC itself though, as one of it’s authors, David Rudlin of URBED has admitted, is not a code at all but a guide to writing codes.
An increased emphasis on the design quality of new development, and a national framework for design standards for LPAs to set policy and determine individual decisions by, can only be a good thing. There seems to be a huge leap though from where we are now to all LPAs having a design code or guide in place within three years, which the Chief Planner has written to them requesting. And what, for example, is the Code’s relationship with the White Paper? Are Codes for every street or just ‘Growth’ and ‘Renewal’ areas? And whilst agreement on what constitutes a good design code should be easy to achieve, agreement on what constitutes good design, let alone beautiful design, is perhaps harder achieve. Are expectations for what a NMDC can achieve being set unrealistically high?
Joining Sam Stafford to discuss these issues in this episode are:
- Paul Smith, Managing Director, Strategic Land Group
- Vicky Pain, planner and urban designer at URBED
- Louise Wood, Service Director for Planning, Cornwall Council
- Ben Woolnough, Major Sites & Infrastructure Manager, East Suffolk Council
BECG proudly supports the 50 Shades of Planning Podcast from Samuel Stafford, Regional Strategic Land Director at Barratt Developments.