Part one of a new series of blogs by Delia Goddard

Ask for Beauty, Refuse Ugliness, Promote Stewardship

In 2020 the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission (BBBC) challenged everyone who is involved in the planning and development of new homes to:

‘Ask for Beauty. Beauty includes everything that promotes a healthy and happy life, everything that makes a collection of buildings into a place, everything that turns anywhere into somewhere, and nowhere into home.It is not merely a visual characteristic, but is revealed in the deep harmony between a place and those who settle there. So understood, beauty should be an essential condition for planning permission.

‘Refuse Ugliness. Ugly buildings present a social cost that everyone is forced to bear. They destroy the sense of place, undermine the spirit of community, and ensure that we are not at home in our world. Ugliness means buildings that are unadaptable, unhealthy and unsightly and which violate the context in which they are placed. Preventing ugliness should be a primary purpose of the planning system.

‘Promote Stewardship. Our built environment and our natural environment belong together. Both should be protected and enhanced for the long-term benefit of the communities that depend on them. Settlements should be renewed, regenerated and cared for, and we should end the scandal of abandoned places, where derelict buildings and vandalised public spaces drive people away. New developments should enhance the environment in which they occur, adding to the health, sustainability and biodiversity of their context.’

After joining the FACLT board in January 2021 I’ve been keeping an eye on the government website to see what is influencing housing policy and how policy is changing nationally. I’m concerned about housing inequality in England and wish to have a better understanding both of the history to this and of potential solutions.

Three recently published government documents caught my attention:

• Living with Beauty, the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission (BBBC) Report, published January 2020.

• Planning for the Future, government white paper, published August 2020.

• Government response to the Living with Beauty Report, published January 2021.

In this series of short blogs I will attempt to outline some of the major findings of the BBBBC. I will look at the policy changes proposed by the Commision that most closely relate to community led housing and CLTs – including, of course, the Frome Area Community Land Trust (FACLT). I will link these proposals as far as possible to Government responses.

I am no expert on housing policy. I recognise that the government website is likely to reflect thinking that supports the current government’s stance. That being said, I believe it’s important to know about the thinking that is informing policy.

I’m hoping that readers of this blog series might post counter opinions that will help broaden my understanding. I think it would be great if this was to become an ongoing discussion Next time I will focus more closely on Living with Beauty to give a sense of the breadth of this report.

Delia Goddard – Director FACLT – April 2021