12/05/2009

New Government Strategy Heralds Minimum Design Standard

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Culture Secretary Andy Burnham have urged councils and developers to put good planning, local character and high quality design at the heart of development.

A new cross-Government strategy released has stressed that good quality buildings and ample green infrastructure - parks, trees and waterways - are not a luxury that can be dropped during difficult economic circumstances.

In World Class Places, the Government pledges that all new public and private development will be built to the highest design standards. All new government-funded building programmes, including social housing, schools and health centres, will include improved design standards.

Every significant public sector project could have the opportunity to be advised or reviewed by a team of design experts from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).

The Government will also establish an integrated set of design quality standards for homes and neighbourhoods to ensure the quality of design does not slip. These will cover the key issues that are fundamental to good design, such as sustainable and practical development, and using design to discourage crime.

"Badly designed housing estates and low quality neighbourhoods encourage crime, undermine communities, deter investment, spoil the environment and cost a fortune in the long term," Hazel Blears said.

"If we give up on good design now, we will simply create rundown areas which we will all have to live with once we get beyond this recession - and we'll end up paying for them twice."

The strategy recognises the need for an approach which works right across government, and brings together all the elements of our built environment: great new public buildings, heritage and conservation, regeneration and public services. All these elements must work together to deliver world-class places.

There have been great improvements in urban design since the publication of 'Towards an urban renaissance', ten years ago. But the wider context has changed significantly. Climate change and our ageing population, for example, have become key priorities for society.

World Class Places reflects the Government's ambition to use the full range of instruments available to lead the urban and rural renaissance over the next decade.

(JM/KMcA)

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