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Planning Champions For All Areas Of The Country


Planning 'champions' should be appointed in every community in the country to oppose unsightly unpopular developments, an independent report for the Government says.

The 200-page review by leading architect Sir Terry Farrell said every council should nominate a “civic champion” to “improve design quality”.

The major review of design in the built environment, which was ordered a year ago by Ed Vaizey, the culture minister.

It comes amid increasing concern that relaxed planning rules are allowing builders to construct large developments of box-like homes on the edge of towns and villages.

The report says that each local authority could nominate an architect and an elected member of the public "to champion local design quality", and shape how local neighbourhoods are designed.

A Chief Architect - like the Chief Veterinary Officer - would also be appointed to monitor standards nationally.

The review also recommends that children should be taught about architecture and design in the national curriculum in schools.

It says that “architecture, the built environment and an understanding of ‘place’” should be taught in some subjects at school, but not as a standalone subject.

Other suggestions include giving councillors who vote on planning decisions “basic training” to ensure that new developments are sympathetic to their surroundings.

Other reforms include making the process of listing buildings more democratic and transparent, and cutting VAT on renovation and repair of private homes to 5 per cent.

Mr Vaizey said he was pleased to see that “the principle of quality of life and community cohesion is well captured in the report”.

He added: “I hope this report is the beginning of a dialogue within the industry about how we can build on our successes and recognise the critical importance of architecture and design in all aspects of our lives.” 

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