This browser is not actively supported anymore. For the best passle experience, we strongly recommend you upgrade your browser.


| 1 minute read


Consultations on the national planning policy framework (NPPF) are frequently happening, and the need for new policies appears to be linked to the concern about the lack of design quality and insufficient architectural training, identified by the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission and the evergreen 2020 "Living with beauty" report.

The draft NPPF [1] strengthens the importance of 'beauty' even more by demanding places that are not only "well-designed" but also "beautiful" (Chapter 12): Local design codes, aligned with the National Model Design Code, are seen as the key route to achieving beautiful places. Interestingly, mansard roofs get a mention – nothing wrong with them but probably not the tool to resolve all planning problems. 

The onus is again on local planning authorities, who are asked to prepare those codes. Given shrinking resources, drafting the codes will become increasingly challenging for LPAs – we already expressed our concerns back in 2021 when the last version of the NPPF was published. 

The discussion about revitalising Britain's built environment and the perceived shortcomings of the education of architects are frustrating. Following the draft NPPF, the Policy Exchange published "A School of Place - How a New School of Architecture can Revitalise Britain's Built Environment" with a foreword by Rt Hon Michael Gove MP. The document suggests that a new school of architecture would address all urban design issues and enable the delivery of beautiful places. 

However, the problem runs deeper. It is not the skills gap and the architect's inability to understand how successful places work that is causing the problem, but a plethora of challenges, not least spiralling costs and the urgent need to supply tens of thousands of new homes across the country. We need aspirational design leadership on both the planner and developer side, combined with a public that demands better quality to deliver places where people want to live and work. 

[1] A few weeks back, the Government began the consultation process for crucial elements of the planning system. The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: Reforms to National Planning Policy is due to close on 2nd March 2023 and remains open for submissions.