27 Nov 2009 03:11 PM
‘Quality streets’ part of Government’s action plan for quality spaces and places

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 27 November 2009

The Government today set out how it will deliver on its vision and promise for making homes and neighbourhoods high quality, safe and more sustainable places to live in.

That is why Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw and Housing Minister Ian Austin today published the action plan on how the Government intends to work with its partners, in particular the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), CABE and English Heritage, as well as with the industry, to deliver the ambitions set out in World Class Places.

The action plan was anticipated at a reception for architects at No 10 on 12 November when the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said:

“I think the sheer imagination that architecture brings to bear, the idea that we are building something bigger than the sum of its parts is what makes architecture and design so important to our society.”

“I don’t think people yet realise just how important architecture and design are going to be to our economic, as well as to our cultural and social future.”

Welcoming today’s action plan, Ben Bradshaw, who is also the Government’s Design Champion, said:

“As the Government’s Design Champion, I don’t need any persuading about the added value of good design, or the importance of the quality of the places in which we live our lives. Our World Class Places document set out our priorities for improving places and spaces, and today’s action plan details how we are going to support those involved in delivering those commitments.

“Commitments that will mean everyone can live, work and be educated in places that are more welcoming, that are more convenient, that are kinder to the environment and that also respect our heritage and the efforts that have gone before us to create wonderful, beautiful buildings. It’s a great challenge – but one that will bring great results.”

Housing Minister Ian Austin said:

“We cannot afford to build homes that will have to be knocked down within a generation because they’re unsuitable, badly designed or badly built.

“We want to ensure that whenever new homes and communities are being planned, the top priority must be the need to create a safe, attractive and sustainable environment for people to live in.

“The measures we have set out today show the Government’s commitment to improving the quality of homes, and ensuring the good design will create the sorts of places that people will want to live in now and in the future.”

With increasing demands on our communities such as a growing population, concern for the environment and a commitment to retaining the character and uniqueness of our architectural heritage, there is great need for building not just more new homes, schools, parks and buildings but ensuring that they are high quality places in which everyone can live, work and enjoy. Making sure that first rate design standards are at the heart of everything we build will be key to making our communities world class places.

The actions included in the plan published today include:-

improving design standards of all new Government-funded building programmes building on where this has worked successfully so far for example in the DCSF school building programme;strengthening local leadership and skills needed to deliver quality through training to help local leaders assess design quality easily, support through the HCA’s single conversation in the regions and the ‘Total Place’ initiative to test ways in which local authorities can work efficiently to deliver quality places whilst still meeting other important local objectives. putting the public at the centre of decision making by enabling greater public ownership of local assets such as parks and open spaces through, for example, the Advancing Assets and Community Builders programmes.

Today’s action plan makes clear the Government’s commitment to ensuring quality places are delivered through our partners and the industry. It sets out in detail how the Government will work with and support local authorities, developers, partners and regional bodies to help implement the Strategy.

Notes to editors

1. The action plan can be found here: LOCATION NEEDS CHECKING?

2. World Class Places: The Government’s Strategy for Improving Quality of Place can be found here:

3. The press release announcing the publication of the above can be found here: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1229626

4. On 12 November, the Prime Minister hosted a reception at No 10 Downing Street celebrating the achievements of British Architects – see link http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page21307. The Action Plan was mentioned at that reception.

5. The World Class Places Strategy outlines seven key objectives:

Strengthen leadership on quality of place at the national and regional level. Actions include boosting the role of ministerial design champions. Encourage local civic leaders and local government to prioritise quality of place. Actions include improving support and training on quality of place for civic leaders and planning committee members.Ensure relevant government policy, guidance and standards consistently promote quality of place and are user-friendly. Actions include introducing new planning policy on the historic environment and green infrastructure.Put the public and community at the centre of place-shaping. Actions include promoting and funding more user engagement in the design of new public buildings. Ensure all development for which central government is directly responsible is built to high design and sustainability standards and promotes quality of place. Actions include establishing design thresholds for all new government funded building programmes.Encourage higher standards of market-led development. Actions include developing and promoting the business case for investing in high quality development.Strengthen quality of place skills, knowledge and capacity. Actions include strengthening the Government’s regional offer to local authorities, public services and developers.

6. Some actions have already been implemented, such as:

design thresholds being adopted by the Department for Schools and Families for its school building programme;publication of the draft planning policy statement on the historic environment;new guidance on design review panels for local authorities and other public bodies, “Design Review Principles and Practice”, published by a partnership comprising CABE, RTPI, the Landscape Institute and RIBA;a new edition of the guidance for the care of the Government’s historic estate, published by English Heritage; new guidance from the Homes and Communities Agency to help empower local people to become involved in decisions about their housing and regeneration of their communities;Royal Assent for the new Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act to embed design and sustainability duties into regional bodies’ objectives, including RDAs.


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