Building More Building Beautiful

Building More, Building Beautiful: How design and style can unlock the housing crisis, with a Foreword from Secretary of State for Housing Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, shows that support for traditional design is highest among lower socioeconomic groups and that Nimbyism can be overcome if plans better reflect people’s desire for traditional building design, like Victorian terraces and Georgian blocks.

The report, co-authored by conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton and former Labour Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales, recommends how design and style should form a greater part of the planning process.

Deltapoll polling for Policy Exchange shows that:

Traditional beauty can overcome Nimbyism

  • Less than three-in-ten people from London and the South East believe too many homes are being built in their area. In fact, people are generally positive about new homes, even when they are built in their neighbourhood.
  • No more than one in ten respondents, wherever they live, feel new homes are currently built with good design and style and modern living requirements in mind. 41% of people believe the local community should have the most say over how we design new homes and communities in the South East – but only 3% believe they currently do. 37% of people believe developers have the most say – but only 11% think they should.
  • 77 percent of respondents agree that cost is too often an excuse for badly designed, soulless new developments and 56 percent think that new modern homes are built as cheaply as possible to maximise profit for the developer. 63 percent of respondents believe that new homes can be built with good design and style and modern living requirements at the heart of the design process without spending more.

Support for traditional style is highest amongst working class communities

  • 85 percent of respondents across all socioeconomic groups said new homes should either fit in with their more traditional surroundings or be identical to homes already there. Across all socioeconomic groups, a large majority of people agree that newly built homes and properties should fit in with their surroundings – with support among DEs reaching 79%.
  • Lower socio-economic groups are most likely to agree that architects should build comfortable and beautiful homes, and to disagree more strongly that new buildings should be adventurous, different or seek to shock. 31% of ABs think building should be adventurous, compared to 17% of DEs.

People believe better design enhances quality of life

  • 84 percent of respondents agree (with 42 per cent strongly agreeing) that better quality buildings and public spaces improve people’s quality of life – the same proportion as those who think living in a well-designed community improves people’s happiness.
  • 68 percent of respondents think a well-designed neighbourhood will reduce crime, while 75 per cent think traditional design and style improves quality of life and 65 percent of respondents think traditionally designed housing helps foster positive community relations
  • 44% of people support medium rise developments, 70% of people support low rise traditional two storey properties and 79% of people support garden cities.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Every local planning authority should produce a design and style guide in consultation with local residents
  • Local wishes should be incorporated into the definition of sustainable development, specifying that “planning should… always seek to secure high quality design and a good standard of amenity for all existing and future occupants of land and buildings, reflecting local public will on issues of building design and style”.
  • Accelerated planning permission for developments which reflect design and style codes and favourable views for developments where locals have been consulted
  • A new designation of ‘Special Areas of Residential Character’ to give residents confidence that new developments will be in keeping with existing look and style.

CAPALC CEOs comments

Perhaps your council could consider the Building More, Building Beautiful report at a council meeting and let your District councillor know if your council is in support of this way forward as a more pragmatic and consultative approach to development in your area and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough as a whole.  You might even stress for the need for this to be incorporated in the local plan for your area.

Dealing with Unauthorised Encampments

Introduction

When land is occupied without the permission of the landowner by those using caravans and camper-vans as a means of habitation this is called an Unauthorised Encampment. 

In legal terms this is a civil matter of trespass between the landowner and the temporary occupants and it is the responsibility of the landowner to deal with the encampment. 

Anti-Social or Criminal Behaviour

A minority of illegal encampment occupants may be involved in some form of behaviour which causes a nuisance or fear and intimidation to people living near to an encampment. Incidents of this nature should be reported to the Police. 

Unauthorised Encampment on Local Authority Land

If the land is owned by a Local Authority, such as a Parish Council, it may apply for a Possession Order through the County Court or evict those using common law but Government policy recommends that the organisation must first show that they have taken the housing, health, welfare and education needs of the occupants into consideration before making the decision to take legal action. This generally involves a visit to the encampment by the an officer of the Principal Authority tasked with dealing with this type of infringement. 

Action Plan for Unauthorised Encampment on land owned by the Parish Council

The policy of the Parish Council is to evict unauthorised vehicles as promptly as practical. 

The cost of removal shall be met by the Parish Council and authorised at the next scheduled meeting of the Council. 

Procedure

The procedure for removal can be initiated by the Clerk and/or Deputy Clerk as officers of the Parish Council and detailed in the job descriptions and terms of reference of those officers. In the absence of the Clerk the Council chairman is authorised to initiate the eviction process with the Parish Council’s solicitor but at no time should any Parish Councillor make direct contact with the occupants at the encampment. 

Unauthorised Encampment on Private Land

If the land is privately owned by a company or individual, the landowner needs to take advice from their solicitor about obtaining a Possession Order through the County Court. 

Action Plan for Unauthorised Encampment on private land not owned by the Parish Council

Neither the Clerk or any Parish Councillor should approach the encampment.

If the matter is reported to the Clerk they should : 

  • Inform the landowner that they have an encampment, inform the police and the principal authority. (district or unitary) 

  • Ask to be informed of progress so that updates can be put on the Parish Council website.

Note: As a private land owner and not being a Local Authority the Parish Council is not required to carry out Welfare Enquiries however to prevent any future grounds for a Judicial review of the re possession action, a Welfare report may be a consideration. 

Helpful Contact Numbers

Specialist Legal Representation may be obtained via Hedley Solicitors Telephone number 01483 284567 

Other assistance will be available via the Principal Authority

Ian Dewar 

CAPALC CEO