Nicholas Boys Smith interview, part two: ‘I’m very mindful there are risks in changing how we do things’

Nicholas Boys Smith c. Tom Campbell

In the second half of his exclusive interview, the boss of the all-new Office for Place gives his take on housebuilders

As chair of both the new Office for Place and the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, Nicholas Boys Smith is the person associated more than any other individual with the government’s agenda to improve the design of new homes and places.

Boys Smith’s focus on gentle density is an implicit rejection of the vast majority of what housebuilders build, and it is unsurprising, then, that his original Living with Beauty report prompted sharp criticism from Redrow and others of its “narrow” focus.

But the government is not shying away from this tension – anything but. At the launch event for the Office for Place and national planning policy reforms intended to put the concept of beauty at the heart of the system, housing secretary Robert Jenrick was explicit that the beauty agenda is in part designed to give local people “the wherewithal to stand up to the volume housebuilders” on matters of design.

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