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RIBA public poll tells the Government to think again on planning

A YouGov poll commissioned by the RIBA found that over half of respondents (54%) believe that the government's plan to remove the need for planning permission for house and building extensions would mean the quality of the design of their neighbourhood would get worse. Only 7% think it will get better.

The same poll also found that the proposed reforms have left half of public respondents (51%) worried about losing their influence over new extensions in their local area, with 20% very worried. Only 10% are not worried at all.

The lack of public support for the measures mirrors the RIBA's concerns that the proposals go against the principles and commitment to quality design, as set out in the recently introduced and lauded National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

In light of the significant widespread public and professional concern over the flawed proposals the RIBA has called on the government to:

  • Ensure adequate safeguards are in place to prevent poorly-designed new extensions as part of its consultation on this proposal.

  • Consider the private cost to future owners of commercial space and home owners who may need to rectify mistakes of poorly designed extensions built without appropriate checks and balances.

Homes for Britain

The RIBA has joined a coalition of housing bodies to emphasise the need to put housing right at the top of the political agenda both to drive growth and build stronger communities.

Along with the RIBA, the other core partners of Homes for Britain are the National Housing Federation, Crisis, the Home Builders' Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Residential Landlords Association.

There are also about 30 other supportive organisations including the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Town and Country Planning Association, local government and Shelter.

Homes for Britain will be launching with a reception at the Conservative Party Conference. Speakers will include the Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP, John Cridland, Director General of the CBI, and Councillor Gary Porter, Leader of the Conservative Local Government Association Group.


Reshuffle brings new architecture minister

This week saw John Penrose MP leave his post as architecture minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and return to the backbenches after the Prime Minister reduced the number of Ministerial posts at DCMS. His successor will be the Hon Ed Vaizey MP - an honourary fellow of the RIBA and Shadow Spokesman on architecture for the Conservative Party before the 2010 General Election.

The Department also saw the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP replaced as Culture Secretary by the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP who was promoted from her junior Ministerial role at the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Prime Minister also made wholesale changes to the Ministerial team at the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP was the only Minister to stay in place.  

The former Business minister and qualified chartered surveyor Mark Prisk MP takes over as housing minister from the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP after the latter's departure to take up the role of Conservative Party Chair. Nick Boles MP, the founder of the think tank Policy Exchange, replaces the Rt Hon Greg Clark as planning minister, following his move to the Treasury.

Other changes in the Department see Brandon Lewis, a trained barrister and member of the 2010 Parliamentary intake, promoted at the expense of Bob Neill MP and the Rt Hon Don Foster MP, the Shadow Liberal Democrat Culture Secretary before the 2010 election, replace Andrew Stunell MP.

The RIBA will be be actively seeking meetings with the new Ministers at the Party Conferences in the next few weeks and also once Parliament returns again in October.

Piano and Clark mark the Shard at RIBA event

The RIBA marked the imminent topping-out of the Shard with a special event in parliament with its creator Renzo Piano. The event, chaired by the Decentralisation and Cities Minister the Rt. Hon Greg Clark MP, provided an opportunity for  MPs, Peers, commentators and senior representatives from the development sector, to hear about the vision behind the Shard, its design and some of the ground-breaking techniques employed through its construction.

In his speech, the Minister talked of the “thrill” of watching the construction of the Shard, whilst also paying special tribute to the contribution of the RIBA in developing the design provisions within the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), expressing his pride in introducing "the highest design standards we've ever had in national policy”.  

Following a fascinating presentation from Renzo Piano, parliamentarians including former Planning Minister and English Heritage Chair Baroness Andrews and Communities and Local Government Select Committee Chair Clive Betts MP, interrogated the policy implications of buildings such as the Shard, including the juxtaposition of iconic buildings alongside heritage assets, the intensification and density of cities and the process of achieving planning consent for the building, including the Public Inquiry that was held in 2003.  

The Way we live now’  

 The RIBA and Ipsos MORI published the report  The Way we live now: What people need and expect from their homes'.  

It is a ground-breaking piece of research that provides the only national evidence base setting out how people are using their homes now, what they look for when choosing a home and what they think needs to happen to improve the home-buying experience. The report, the first of its kind for over 50 years, sets out 8 things modern households want and need from their homes, from a large main living space for social activities to additional sockets and utility provisions. It will be used as evidence by the Future Homes Commissionin the coming months. In addition to the report there are a series of short filmed case studies which people can watch online, with hints and tips for people choosing their next home. 

The report received widespread media coverage, with Harry Rich appearing onBBC Radio 4’s the Today Programme , BBC 5 Live Breakfast and BBC Good Morning Scotland . The report was also covered bythe Guardian , the Telegraph and the Independent.


The RIBA has  launched a major new report arguing for a radical reform of the public construction procurement process.  The report calls for the reduction of procurement bureaucracy, the promotion of better quality outcomes in terms of design and sustainability and the removal of barriers to market access. 

Speakers at the launch were Angela Brady, Vice Chair of the RIBA Procurement Group Owen O'Carroll, Richard Saxon CBE and Sally Collier, the Executive Director of the Efficiency and Reform Group at the Cabinet Office. Sally Collier welcomed the report, stating that the Government shared many of the ambitions and objectives of the RIBA in reforming public procurement.

Future Homes Commission  

The Future Homes Commission , tasked by the RIBA to conduct an independent inquiry into the design and delivery of new housing, visited York and Wales in the last month as part of its evidence-gathering programme. 

In April, the Future Homes Commission spent two days in York, receiving evidence and visiting housing sites in and around York including the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust’s award winning new development at Derwenthorpe. They met with architects, housing developers, academics and representatives from a range of local authorities in the region, including Leeds City Council, City of York Council, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. 

And in Wales, the commissioners visited the Mariners Quay development in Newportand met with Huw Lewis, the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage in the Welsh Government. Discussion sessions were also in the Millennium Centre in Cardiff and attendees included civil servants from the Welsh Government, architects and planners. 

Mayoral Candidates back the RIBA Manifesto for London  Last month the RIBA launched its London Mayoral and Assembly Election Manifesto,Designing a Better London. It sets out four key policies to provide a thriving, greener and better built environment for all of London's communities.  

Following the endorsements of Ken Livingstone, Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones, the RIBA received the backing of Boris Johnson ahead of the Election on 3 May, who said: 

'I look forward, if re-elected on 3 May, to working with RIBA on our shared ambitions of revitalising our high streets, ensuring a high quality of design in our capital’s buildings and driving growth forward. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank RIBA for the valuable work it does in championing better buildings.'

VAT on listed buildings  

The RIBA has responded to thegovernment's consultation on increasing the rate of VAT on alterations to listed buildings from 0% to 20%. This was first announced in the Budget in March.

In its response, the Institute recommended that the rate should be kept at zero. We also make recommendations for transition arrangements should the measure be implemented, as well as a proposal that in the long-term a better way of correcting the anomaly of different VAT rates would be for all VAT rates for works to Listed Buildings to be reduced. 

You can read the RIBA’s consultation response here .

We have also been campaigning as part of the Cut the VAT Coalition to oppose the measure, and the Coalition sent the Chancellor of the Exchequer a letter asking him to reconsider the proposal at the start of May. RIBA representatives also met with David Gauke MP, the Exchequer Secretary, to express our concerns.

Energy Bill Revolution

The RIBA has joined the Energy Bill Revolution alliance , calling for warm homes and lower bills. The Energy Bill Revolution is calling on the Government to use the money it gets from carbon taxes to be invested back into making our housing stock super-efficient and cheap to heat – with a real focus on those who struggle hardest to heat their homes.

The campaign brings together more than 80 other organisations from different sectors, including Asda, Ikea, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Taking action in this way would be enough to bring 9 out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty, generate up to 200,000 jobs and save four times more carbon emissions than the Government’s new energy efficiency policies.