Opposition to new housing developments could be curbed if there was more focus on the “heart and soul” of areas, Michael Gove has suggested.
The levelling up, housing and communities secretary said too many planning applications were “indifferent” or “insipid”. Mr Gove made the comments in the foreword to a report by the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange.
He is backing its call for a new school of architecture and urban design. The government has a target of building 300,000 new homes by the middle of the decade.
But, Mr Gove previously said the pledge would be “difficult” to deliver in the next year because of the economic slump and rising inflation.
Labour’s shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy said: “The thousands of families who saw their dreams of home ownership go up in smoke after the Tories crashed the economy need a real plan for more homes to be built.”
In the think tank’s report, Mr Gove suggested the potential of some public spaces was being squandered as a result of poor design and maintenance. Places must be at the heart of levelling up but if places themselves have no heart and soul, then levelling up too will falter,” he said.
“Much of the opposition to new housing developments is often grounded in a fear that the quality of the new buildings and places created will be deficient and therefore detrimental to existing neighbourhoods and properties.
“If a general improvement in the standard of design reassures the general public that this will in fact not be the case, then they may be less likely to oppose it.” But Mr Gove acknowledged there is “no silver bullet” to solve the housing crisis.
What’s happened to the government’s housebuilding target? The Policy Exchange report calls for the government to back a new “School of Place”, arguing if there was “a generally higher quality of architecture and placemaking then this could help diffuse much of the aesthetic opposition to new housing”.
The school would include architects, planners, designers, engineers and consultants. Earlier this month, the government watered down its housing targets for local councils following the threat of a rebellion from some Conservative MPs.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had been trying to bring in binding targets, but the government now says: “Housing targets remain, but are a starting point, with new flexibilities to reflect local circumstances.
In other news – Two arrested after Elle Edwards killed on Christmas Eve
A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with the murder of a 26-year-old who was shot at a Merseyside pub on Christmas Eve.
Beautician Elle Edwards died in hospital after being shot in the head at the Lighthouse in Wallasey Village. Learn more