Design Council has today welcomed Living With Beauty: Promoting Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Growth, the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission’s (BBBBC’s) new report which proposes a new development and planning framework. 

An authority on design and the built environment, Design Council – working with its national network of 400 built environment experts (BEEs) – has a history of championing the importance of design throughout the planning and development process.

Outlining 44 policy proposals, Living With Beauty reflects much of Design Council’s evidence submitted to the Commission in 2019, where we argued that design must be the golden thread running throughout the entire planning and development process. The BBBBC publication positively references Design Council’s contribution on several occasions, including:

  • supporting our recommendation that the government should invest in the skills of existing planning officers and inspectors, as well as highway engineers. 
  • acknowledging our joint publication with the Home Builders Federation and Design for Homes which encourages sensitivity to the local distinctiveness of a place.
  • highlighting our expertise in carrying out design reviews which improve the quality of significant developments, urban extensions and major infrastructure projects.
  • endorsing our recent National Design Guide, produced in partnership with Tibbalds Urban Planning and Design.
  • reporting on Design Council’s workshop, run on behalf of the BBBBC in October 2019, which examined how to maintain design quality through the procurement process and set out recommendations for improvement. 

In addition, Living With Beauty emphasises several key themes regularly championed by Design Council, including: the need to consider placemaking rather than housebuilding; community empowerment and early public engagement; sustainability and green infrastructure; and carefully integrating infrastructure and neighbourhoods.

Chief Executive at Design Council, Sarah Weir OBE, said: “I’m delighted to read the Commission’s final report, which adds weight to Design Council’s longstanding work to champion the importance of design throughout the planning and development process. The report shows that beauty is so much more than aesthetics; it makes clear the connection between well designed places and enhanced health and wellbeing, as our recent research on Healthy Placemaking has shown.”  

“I’m particularly encouraged to see people and the environment placed at the heart of the planning process, the emphasis on holistic placemaking, and the need to ensure our built environment professionals are equipped with design skills and clear guidance that they need. I hope we will now see swift, consistent and decisive action from local authorities, planners and developers across the UK. Design Council is ready and willing to support them to create places that work for everyone – now and in the future.”  

Design Council’s work with the BBBBC is part of its longstanding commitment to improve the quality of design in the built environment. As well as providing ongoing independent strategic design advice and reviews for local authorities, property developers, infrastructure developers and their consultant teams, in the last year alone, Design Council has also:

  • Launched a free online training course in inclusive environments for built environment professionals and other key stakeholders across the UK.  
  • Contributed to A National Housing Design Audit for England  funded by UCL through the Place Alliance, the CPRE and the Laidlaw Scholarship Programme, which looked at the quality of housing design in the UK since 2007.
  • Completed a National Design Guide with Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design to form part of the revised Design Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) supporting the Government’s revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This guide is endorsed in the Living With Beauty publication.
  • Became partners on the Home Of 2030 project making sure all homes adapt to changing needs, such as the ageing population and to develop more sustainable housing. 
  • Became a key member of the High Streets Task Force.
  • Run a workshop with built environment stakeholders and champions for West Midlands Combined Authority on the concept of a national housing expo.

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