Beauty is in the eyes of the beholders

Darbishire Place housing in London by Niall McLaughlin Architects

What happens when a community have different ideas about what their local design code should say, ask Nisha Kurian and Holly Lewis

There is a lot to be applauded in the new draft national model design code. It’s great to see the importance of design recognised at a national level, and strong advocation for the role of local communities in the planning process. The code presents a clearly illustrated set of urban design guidelines, put together by people who know what they’re talking about, albeit with some strange political wording… a street being “tree-lined” can still be car-dominated and full of pollution. Where the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission’s report, published a year ago, raised a few eyebrows with its philosophical tone – ask for beauty, refuse ugliness… - the new national model design code adopts a more pragmatic approach towards setting parameters for quality development.

What is concerning, however, is the things that it doesn’t say.

There’s no mention of the fact that extended permitted development (PD) rights (and the planning white paper) are reducing local control at the same time that the code supports it – opening one door and closing another.

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