iNHouse Communications attended a Policy Exchange and Create Streets event with Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, where he talked about the need to ‘make houses, homes’.

In his keynote speech, Jenrick lamented the broken planning system, arguing that ‘we have forgotten the basics of building beautiful homes’. He argued that the creation of well-designed homes would encourage residents to support further new development in their communities and it was therefore in the interests of faster delivery to ‘build beautiful’.

He talked about the Government’s plans to develop the first national design code which would act as a model through which local authorities would develop their own local design guides. These local design guides will be ‘shaped by local people’ and local authorities will be supported by government to deliver them.

Jenrick went on to talk about bringing local communities and heritage groups together to identify buildings of importance which could be nominated for faster protection. This heritage preservation campaign would be trialled first in ten counties and supported by half a million pounds of investment from the government. The government will also appoint a National Heritage Advisor to support the campaign. Jenrick proclaimed that the campaign will create what he likes to think of as ‘modern-day monuments men and women’.

The Secretary of State also talked about the importance of repurposing commercial buildings, applauding the Daedalus development delivered by Wates which saw the historic naval base sensitively redeveloped to provide a new coastal community.

There is much to like about the ambitious proposals being laid out. The ideas and the concept of the design guide is strong, although there will be worries about the impact on already stretched local authorities. At a time when tight council budgets are having to go further and councils are seeing swathes of planning officers move to the private sector, the government will need to think carefully about the level of support they are able to provide.