We are heading for a dangerous free-for-all on beauty

Ben Derbyshire

The government’s proposed planning reforms risk confusing beauty with popularity, argues Ben Derbyshire

The contradictions inherent in the government’s proposed planning reforms are striking: the chocolate-box imagery of 18th-century cottages deployed to sell the concept of Living with Beauty contrast with the communities secretary’s hasty and unlawful approval of huge towers at Robert Desmond’s Westferry Printworks.

The call for “gentle density” is out of kilter with councils’ strategic housing land availability assessments, and much development is now taking place at superdensity on the available sites.

The upheaval required for local planning authorities to draft zone-based local plans and prepare design codes ignores the depletion of resources from years of austerity that will render them inadequate to the task.

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