Aesthetics in the housing market are to be prioritized by the government, with a focus on retail parks, high streets and housing estates. The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission intends to enshrine concepts of ‘beauty’ within the UK’s planning system, and has published a report entitled ‘Creating Space for Beauty’ outlining the proposed changes.
The work of the Commission is explained here: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/building-better-building-beautiful-commission.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) aims to give as much attention to making attractive residential homes as is given to sustainable development.
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Beauty in the built environment
The December report from the Commission lays down a vision of uninspiring housing estates, dormant retail parks and failing high streets, to be recreated for mixed-use communities as beautiful spaces. It notes that everyone has the right to live in beautiful surroundings, and that beauty in amenities, buildings and open spaces ought not to be restricted to listed buildings and conservation areas.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and beauty may vary among different people. For some time, it seems the public has felt that beauty has been lost in the built environment.
The 1909 Planning Act stated an ambition to secure healthy homes, beautiful houses, pleasant towns, dignified cities and salubrious suburbs. A movement is now afoot to bring back these building ambitions in 2020.
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Although the architectural community favoured a Labour victory, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) welcomed the Conservative win. Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, remarked that Brexit Britain offers the chance for the new government to take on the housing crisis.
He added that a reduction in VAT on maintenance and repairs is sought, and there is a need for an all-embracing national retrofit policy to upgrade current housing stock.
He noted that business will appreciate the certainty, but sorting out trade deals will be the real challenge.
In general, it is believed that getting Brexit done will encourage demand in the UK housing market, with the Conservatives saying that they want to focus on first-time buyers and homeowners.