Dezeen Magazine

An interim report for the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission urges UK councils to reject "ugly" housing schemes and prioritise car-free developments.

UK housing commission urges planners to "say no to ugliness”

The Building Better Building Beautiful Commission has urged UK councils to reject "ugly" housing schemes and prioritise low car developments in its latest report.

More weight should be placed on attractive housing developments when giving planning permission, suggests the commission's latest report, called Creating space for beauty.

The report urges councils to have confidence to "say no to ugliness" and to involve local communities at an earlier stage of the design process, rather than the current model where people can't lodge objections until the planning stage.

"Beauty for everyone, not just the wealthy"

Car-free high streets are recommended in the report as well as building mixed-use communities instead of residential-only developments – where people often need cars to access basic amenities.

Overall the report places an emphasis on developing brownfield sites and focusing on beauty no matter where building takes place.

"Redeveloping abandoned out of town retail parks and ugly old supermarkets would deliver something much more beautiful in the form of thriving new communities where people can raise a family, work or settle down," said interim chairman Nicholas Boys Smith.

"Beauty should not be just a property of the old buildings or protected landscapes but something we expect from new buildings, places and settlements," added Boys Smith, who took over when original chair Roger Scruton was sacked in May.

"We need to deliver beauty for everyone, not just the wealthy."

UK aims to build 300,000 homes a year by mid 2020s

One development praised in the report is The Malings by Ash Sakula Architects, a development of 76 homes in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which combines traditional terraced housing typology with stacked duplex apartments.

With this latest report the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission, which launched in November 2018, is building on its stated mission to ease the UK housing crisis with developments that local communities approve of.

"I am determined to reach our target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s," said UK housing secretary James Brokenshire.

"But it's right that we do not do this at any expense – what is built must stand the test of time."

The Building Better Building Beautiful Commission will submit its final report to the government at the end of the year.

When it launched last year with Scruton, a vocal opponent of modern architecture, as chair the commission proved highly controversial, with Dezeen columnist Sam Jacob sating that "the beautiful buildings commission is just a front for the continuing attack on progressive ideas".

Earlier this year the minister for housing Kit Malthouse gave an interview with Dezeen where he insisted that he wanted architects to "meet us half way" and join the commission in putting pressure on private developers to deliver a higher quality of homes.