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Backing Beauty response to Housing White Paper

07 February 2017

Responding to the Government White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market, published earlier today, Backing Beauty policy lead Duncan Sim said the following:

“The tone and content of the White Paper signifies a very welcome recognition that, if we are to achieve the increase in housebuilding the Government desires, this must be done with the support of local people and with the opportunity for them to give substantive input. ResPublica has consistently argued that communities must be given the chance to set out their vision of how their area should evolve, and the tools to make this vision a reality. We therefore welcome the ambition of the White Paper in this regard.

“We particularly welcome the Government’s commitment to continue funding support for neighbourhood planning groups; this echoes the call we made ahead of the Autumn Statement for existing support programmes to be maintained. It is also encouraging to see the Paper’s acknowledgement of the public health benefits of beautiful design, as highlighted in our initial 2015 report A Community Right to Beauty.

“The increase in local authority planning fees the Paper provides for will allow local authorities to more effectively support communities seeking to protect their area from poor quality or unattractive development, and to more rigorously enforce the provisions of neighbourhood plans. The Paper’s proposal to amend the NPPF to include an expectation that all neighbourhood and local plans will set out clear design guidelines represents a real chance for local people to beautify their place.

“While there is much to welcome in the Paper however, we believe the tools offered to communities still do not go far enough, or recognise the need to provide enhanced practical and financial support to local people in deprived areas, who our research shows feel least strongly that their area offers them beauty. Given the paper’s focus on design, we are disappointed that the importance of promoting attractive design specifically in less affluent communities is not explicitly recognised.”