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England needs a design quality unit, consortium insists

Words: Laura Edgar
Design / iStock-695448564

The government should set up a dedicated Design Quality Unit for England to build on the work of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission (BBBBC).

This is the conclusion of a consortium of organisations comprising the Academy of Urbanism, Civic Voice, CPRE, Design Council, Place Alliance, Trees & Design Action Group, UCL and Urban Design Group. 

Citing the Housing Design Audit for England, which The Planner reported on in January this year, the consortium noted that there has been a systematic failure to deliver good quality urban development across England for “decades”, particularly in new developments.

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has “emphasised how critical a high quality built environment is to our everyday sense of wellbeing and how disadvantaged those are who suffer poor conditions inside and out”. This diadvantage could be manifested through poor quality green space and poor access to local facilities. 

Building on the BBBBC’s work the consortium says government has a “once in a generation” opportunity to show “real” leadership and ambition to make a change.

In Delivering Urban Quality, Time to Get Serious, the consortium explains that it will be difficult to deliver the BBBBC’s proposals “without a determined and public effort” by the government, which should harness the knowledge and commitment of the built environment sector. 

The consortium recommends that a properly resource Design Quality Unit should be set up in England. It should be based on a partnership and networked approach across the country in order to monitor, challenge, inspire and help to deliver “real change”.

In a statement, the consortium invited other organisations and individuals to join this call for action. 

Delivering Urban Quality, Time to Get Serious, can be found here (pdf).

Image credit | iStock