Interview: Nicholas Boys Smith on design, deregulation and the Office for Place


There are few topics more controversial than planning reform and placemaking and few people more passionate about them than the chair of the new Office for Place. He talks to Joey Gardiner

Last month the housing secretary Robert Jenrick launched a new housing design body and reforms to the national planning policy intended to put the concept of beauty at the heart of the system. The man asked to chair the new Office for Place is the person associated more than any other individual with the government’s agenda to improve the design of new homes and places: Nicholas Boys Smith.

The founder of campaigning charity Create Streets and, more recently, chair of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, Boys Smith has spent more than a decade seeking to persuade planners, policy-makers, politicians and the industry that the houses we build can be – and need to be – so much better. An advocate for a “gentle density” approach to development and the use of design coding, he is, according to the Bartlett Real Estate Institute’s Yolande Barnes, quite simply a “man on a mission”.

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