The government should fast-track planning permission for beautiful housing in the UK, according to a new report, which could be significant for self builders.

The Building Better, Building Beautiful commission published its Living in Beauty report this week which has recommended a series of measures designed to increase attractive housing. The commission was set up in 2018 to investigate how millions of homes can be built in England without compromising on quality and aesthetics. 

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick specifically mentioned self builders in his response to the report, and stressed action needs to be taken to ensure the planning system makes approval easier for attractive builds. 

(MORE: Self Build: All You Need to Know About Building a Bespoke Home)

Jenrick said: “We need to ensure our planning system, with all its flaws and complexities and convolutions favours beauty as the default rather than the exception, with more opportunities for smaller developers, for self builders, for entrepreneurs, for visionaries for great stewards of their landscapes.

“I will establish a ‘fast-track for beauty’ where individuals and developers, who have put in the time to create proposals for well-designed buildings, which use high quality-materials which take account of their local setting; that they can see their developments proceed at pace.”

Should the findings be adopted as policy, self builders could find it easier to secure planning permission if their builds are well designed and use high-quality materials. 

(MORE: Read Robert Jenrick’s speech in full)

Easier to Get Planning Permission

The proposed measures include planting two million trees, giving powers to local authorities to set design standards and awarding tax breaks for retrofitted buildings.

The report argues that if new housing developments are more aesthetic, they will be granted planning permission more easily as homeowners within the community are less likely to object.

This will incentivise developers, the report says, to use high-quality materials and create proposals for well-designed buildings, and will lead to fewer planning applications being held up. 

A goal of planting two million trees on streets should be implemented, the commission suggests, and developers should be encouraged to plant a fruit tree in an urban community orchard per house they build. 

Giving Local Authorities More Power

The Building Better, Building Beautiful commission has also recommended changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPBF) that would make it easier for local authorities to turn down planning applications on design grounds.

Jenrick agreed that local authorities need to have greater influence in the design of new homes. He added: “The report is right that local authorities will need to play a leading role in this design revolution. We will need to ensure they have the right skills and leadership to fully carry out their role as placemakers.”

Crispin Truman, chief executive of Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the countryside charity, said of the report: “The Commission is right to call for stronger local policies and more weight given to beauty in planning decisions. New homes and new places must be attractive, but also easy to get around without a car, pleasant to live in, low-carbon and friendly to nature. We urge ministers to take up the commission’s recommendations.”

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