Need to know: Commission puts focus on placemaking to build beautifully

The government's Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, which is looking at the reasons for ugly developments, has published its interim report.

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission highlighted some new schemes that are beautiful, including Marmalade Lane in Cambridge (PIC Mole Architects)
The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission highlighted some new schemes that are beautiful, including Marmalade Lane in Cambridge (PIC Mole Architects)

A government backed commission has argued for greater focus on placemaking rather than housebuilding, for out of town retail parks to be turned into mixed developments and for greater weight to be placed on beauty in the planning system. The recommendations are contained in the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission’s interim report, which looks at the fundamental reasons for ugly developments and public mistrust of development. The report calls for communities to be given an earlier say in the development process, encouraging greater use of masterplanning. Interim chairman of the commission Nicholas Boys Smith said, "Beauty should not just be a property of the old buildings or protected landscapes, but something we expect from new buildings, places and settlements." Communities secretary James Brokenshire said, "As a country, we should not shy away from talking about what building beautifully means – and this report is an important contribution to that discussion." The interim report, Creating space for beauty, is available here.

Retail property company intu has revealed plans to deliver 1,000 build to rent homes at its intu Lakeside shopping centre, in Grays, Essex. Early designs for the proposal show a series of residential blocks, replacing an existing store and adjoining car parking. The developer has already delivered a leisure development on the Lakeside site, and expects the residential proposal to include landscaping and lifestyle facilities.

Affordable housing provider The Hyde Group and its development partner Linkcity have exchanged contracts with Canterbury City Council on a mixed use regeneration project for the city that includes 189 affordable homes. Alongside homes, the Riverside proposal includes a cinema, bars, restaurants and student accommodation. Under the deal, Linkcity and Hyde will lease the land from the council, which will invest £23 million in the commercial elements of the scheme. It is expected that 60 per cent of homes will be for shared ownership tenure, with the remainder for social rent.

King’s Lynn in Norfolk, Bishop Auckland in Durham and Poole in Dorset are among 50 locations going through to the second phase in a contest to secure a share of the government’s £675 million future high streets fund. Successful towns will now receive funding to work up detailed project proposals based on their initial plans. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will work closely with the bidders, focusing on places with projects that can be accelerated.

Watford Borough Council is to consult with local people on plans for a three-phase regeneration of part of its town centre. The first phase could see its listed town hall redeveloped as a hotel, and the development of new homes and a museum building. The second phase would involve bringing empty buildings back into use, redeveloping nearby streets and improving Watford’s market. The third phase will see pedestrian and cycling routes improved.  

Affordable housing providers Trafford Housing Trust and L&Q and contractor Willmott Dixon have formed a joint venture called Laurus Partnership Homes to deliver a planned 250 home scheme in Preston, Lancashire. The D’Urton Lane site has been brought forward by government agency Homes England and, subject to planning approval, the partnership will purchase the land and begin building later this year. The site is expected to have two, three and four bedroom homes, over half of which will be for shared ownership or affordable rent

Nottingham City Council has approved plans to buy back more than 250 former council houses to help it meet housing need. The council plans to buy more than 300 homes in all, including some new build homes. The acquisitions will be paid for using right to buy replacement receipts and council borrowing and will help the council towards its objective to deliver 1,000 council or social homes for rent by 2023.

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