Jenrick to create new body tasked with driving up design standards

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has appointed Nicholas Boys Smith to establish a new design body.

Nicholas will be tasked with driving up design standards and supporting local communities to produce design codes defining beautiful designs in each community.

He will chair a new steering group that will advise government on how best to help communities set these local rules for developments.

He will also ensure that beauty, design and high environmental standards are fundamental to every planning application.

Nicholas is co-chair for the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission and is founding director of social enterprise Create Streets.

Speaking at the Create Streets Conference on 22nd September, Jenrick said: “Nicholas Boys Smith has established himself as the pre-eminent voice in the movement to create beautiful, sustainable neighbourhoods with an enduring appeal, and so I have asked him to help establish the new design body that will enhance what people treasure most about their local area.”

Nicholas commented: “New places should be the conservation areas of the future: popular, beautiful, sustainable, and supportive of public health and wellbeing. 

“I am delighted to be asked to be help achieve that and look forward to getting stuck in.”

This follows the government’s release of its Planning for the Future white paper.

The document outlines proposals for a new, faster, simpler planning system which will require local authorities to introduce their own local design codes.

The housing secretary has also appointed Charles O’Brien as the government’s listing heritage adviser to help conserve some of England’s historic buildings.

This is the first time such a post has been created since the 1980s, and was inspired by the Monuments Men, who battled to save historic buildings and artefacts from bulldozers during the second world war.

In his role, Charles — who is a leading architectural historian and commissioner at Historic England — will spearhead work with councils to increase the number of buildings and structures of significant historical and cultural value that are locally listed and protect them through the planning system.

He said that he was delighted to have been appointed to advise the secretary of state on the programme to improve and extend the local lists of important buildings and places in England. 

“The best way to protect the heritage we value is to identify what matters most to our communities and share our understanding and appreciation of them.”

Culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, added: “I welcome the appointment of Charles O’Brien to help guide this work, which comes on top of the unprecedented investment we are making to support our heritage sector through the £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund.

“Historic buildings and monuments give each of our towns and cities their unique character. 

“We’re determined to protect them for future generations so that they appreciate all aspects of our past and enjoy beautiful places to live, work and visit.”

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