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Saturday02 August 2014

NIMBYs have a point, says Prince's Foundation

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Hank Dittmar backs planning minister ‘pig ugly’ comments

Planning minister Nick Boles’ call for better design to win public backing for housing projects has been welcomed by The Prince’s Foundation and Design Council Cabe.

The Tory MP said developments would have to be more attractive and blamed “pig-ugly” housing schemes for turning people against development.

Hank Dittmar

Hank Dittmar

Hank Dittmar, chief executive at The Prince’s Foundation, said: “For too long the housing debate has been polarised between those who want more homes and NIMBYs, who are accused of standing in the way of progress and housing affordability.

“But NIMBYs have a point - they have observed that most new development often makes communities worse, not better.

“Our extensive experience with communities shows us that what NIMBYs are really asking for is higher quality development that fits into their communities. If they can be convinced of this point, they will tend to support new development.”

Boles singled out developer Bellway’s Harrisons Wharf development in Purfleet for particular criticism, describing it as an “overbearing and unbroken slab of dismal brickwork”.

Harrisons Wharf was slammed by Cabe back in 2004 with the design watchdog giving the development a ‘poor’ rating, stating the scheme lacked imagination, had no design brief and was dominated by car parking.

John Mathers, chief executive of Design Council, which now includes Cabe, said: “This is about getting more for our money through the supply of good quality, well-designed homes for all. Design needs to be a key consideration from the outset and new developments need to add value to a place and their communities.

But house builders hit back at Boles’ claim that poor design could be stifling development, pointing to a range of factors including lack of mortgage availability.

A spokesman for the Home Builders Federation said: “People who buy new homes are overwhelmingly happy with what they are buying. Everybody wants to ensure design is of the highest possible standard [but] to suggest developers are building pig-ugly buildings completely misses the point.” He added the biggest restraint on supply has been land

Figures released by the NHBC show that in the 10 months to the end of October the number of registered new homes was down 12% on the same period last year.

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Readers' comments (4)

  • As a ordinary person I have lived in these god awful boxes and hated them. I gave up with living in mini-homes and moved back to a victorian / edwardian building. Also as a gardener. There is nothing more horrible than a paved patio and no earth to stand on. Please comment

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  • This is the chickens coming home to roost folowing the Prescott era nonsence that the higher the density of development the better, also the nonsence that if you don't design in parking then poeple will own less vehicles. Following the failure of schemes built to thse mantras things are now swinging back the other way but we have to be careful not to go back too far in the other direction. I agree that land costs are an issue making developments feel cramped and the only way to bring land costs down is to allow more development

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  • The Home Bulders Federation needs to get a grip. The build quality of many new schemes is appalling. My home town has recieved a new estate which is worse (style, plot size, house size, layout) than the 70's estate round the corner. The effect on communities is damaging because the driver is profit and they will say ANYTHING to get permission to build. minimum plot size, minimum room size, maximum density, maximum sale price. The exact opposite of what a buyer wants.

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  • Out with the old minister who barely knew what he was on about, in with a new guy who gets people going with:
    "Pig ugly housing schemes turn people against new development".
    I dont agree, such a generalisation, and so simplistic. Maybe architects should be allowed to design without the control of interfering planning departments who think they know better

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