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Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission Response

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) responds to the call for evidence from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission launched a call for evidence on how to improve the design of homes and neighbourhoods through the planning and development process, including seeking views on the role of beauty in the planning system. 

The RIBA has called on the Commission to ensure that beauty is incorporated into a broader definition - quality design - which is focused on securing positive outcomes for the people that will use and interact with the places being built. This can only be achieved through improving the planning and development process, not being prescriptive about the style of new development. Raising standards, improving the resourcing of the planning system – particularly design expertise – and properly assessing the as-built performance of buildings will be far more effective solutions to the problem of poor-quality housing.

The RIBA's full response is available to download at the link below. 

To promote high-quality design for new build homes and neighbourhoods, the RIBA recommends that the government:

  • Urgently addresses the resource gap in local authority planning departments, particularly the shortage of qualified design expertise
  • Mandate the use of Post Occupancy Evaluation for any housing projects that receive public funding
  • Undertake a review into procurement through design and build contracts to address the risks and shortcomings that this creates in new housing. This should include ensuring that design architects are retained throughout a project, at least in a ‘design guardian’ role
  • Support the recommendations of the Letwin Review relating to capping land values and mandating the parcelling up of large sites
  • Allow local authorities to mandate the use of design review for projects which meet agreed criteria
  • Make the Nationally Described Space Standard and M4(2) Category 2 of the building regulations the minimum standard for all new housing
  • Put an immediate end to the delivery of housing under permitted development

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