Create Streets director steps up following Roger Scruton’s dismissal

Nicholas Boys Smith

Nicholas Boys Smith

Create Streets director Nicholas Boys Smith has been named interim chair of the government’s Building Beautiful commission, following Roger Scruton’s dismissal last month.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire said Boys Smith (pictured), who is one of the existing commissioners, would head up the commission before a permanent replacement for Scruton was appointed.

Brokenshire announced the move in an interview on LBC radio in which he said he regretted the way the commission’s previous chair Roger Scruton had been sacked.

He was challenged by interviewer Iain Dale over the handling of the affair which followed a piece in the New Statesman in which Scruton appeared to repeat controversial remarks he had made about a “Soros empire” in Hungary and a “sudden invasion of huge tribes of Muslims”.

The piece quickly resulted in Scruton’s dismissal for what the government described as his “unacceptable comments”.

Brokenshire, who did not speak to Scruton about the controversial interview before sacking him, told LBC he regretted the way things were handled. He said he had a “huge amount of respect” for Scruton’s work on aesthetics which he had hoped he would bring to bear at the commission.

“In hindsight I look back on the handling of this and, yes, we could have done things differently,” he said.

“That’s something I do acknowledge. It is difficult. I am very saddened by the whole situation as to how this has occurred, and I very firmly thank and recognise all the work Sir Roger has done on this.”

Boys Smith set up Create Streets in 2013 to “promote high-density, beautiful, street-based developments that involve the community”, according to his MHCLG biography.

The other commissioners are landscape architect Kim Wilkie, Mary Parsons, chair of the Town and Country Planning Association and Gail Mayhew, a property consultant.

The commission, which was originally due to report at the end of this year, is also advised by a panel that includes Sunand Prasad of Penoyre & Prasad and AHMM’s Paul Monaghan.

In the LBC interview Brokenshire was unable to say how many of the 222,000 houses built last year were “affordable” and how many were social housing.