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Monday, 13 January 2020

Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission

—-] sounds a bit like what I am doing here. And who can quibble with homes that are better, homes that are beautiful? Here’s what they say about themselves:

The commission is an independent body that will advise government on how to promote and increase the use of high-quality design for new build homes and It will be responsible for developing practical measures that will help ensure new housing developments meet the needs and expectations of communities, making them more likely to be welcomed, rather than resisted, by existing communities.
The commission has 3 primary aims:
1.     To promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets, to reflect what communities want, building on the knowledge and tradition of what they know works for their area.
2.     To explore how new settlements can be developed with greater community consent.
3.     To make the planning system work in support of better design and style, not against it.

—-] My comment on this
First warning: This is a Tory gambit, with the vile right-wing philosopher Scruton on board. Why vile? Taking an annual salary of £50,000from a tobacco company to write articles promoting cigarette smoking is not the behaviour of a decent human being, let alone a ‘moral philosopher’. So vile is as vile does. (Scruton died in early 2020, ironically of cancer)

Looking at the three points above, it’s obvious that frustration with NIMBYs has led to this development. These Tories imagine that spin and PR will overcome resistance to new greenfield house-building developments. 

“But this will be a rural village community” they might say, “Look, all the houses will be eco-friendly, carbon neutral. Best of all the design will be straight out of William Morris’s wallpaper book. Prince Charles will love it.”

It is utter naïveté to imagine this will convince the NIMBYs to embrace these new schemes. All they can see is the disruption, loss of property values and an influx of undesirables. That’s a price too high to pay for any prettification!

Better design and style of houses? Again, what simple-minded clown thought that tarting up the exterior would make people accept new house-building? Sure, there is a lot wrong with current houses — poor layout, lack of storage space, insufficiently flexible to cope with changing life-styles. Insulation levels are still woeful (that applies to heat retention and extraneous noise). But above all it is lack of useable SPACE that bedevils new-built housing. 

Car manufacturers have shown how to make better, more comfortable cars with lots of useable space. They have also made them more energy-efficient. Yes, and they have employed fancy Italian stylists to improve the visual appeal, too. But it is the basics of design that come first, not the styling.

So I will plough on. The Government doesn’t get it. If we are to have Better, Cheaper housing in Abundance it is they — the Government — who have to act. They need to change housing from an investment good (who cares what a lump of gold looks like?) to a useful commodity bought for the services it provides. 


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