Civic Voice responds to Building Better Building Beautiful Commission’s report

Government report calls for a renaissance of civic pride and revitalisation of civic involvement

Civic Voice – the national charity for the civic and conservation movement – today gives an initial welcome to the final report from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

Living in Beauty – published today (30th January 2020) was led by the late Sir Roger Scruton and Nicholas Boys Smith (Create Streets) and contains dozens of recommendations to support the creation of ‘more beautiful’ communities, including:

• speeding up the planning process for ‘beautiful buildings’ through a new ‘Fast Track for Beauty’ rule for councils
• Recognising that some developers can abuse permitted developments rights to produce accommodation of the lowest quality. They call for all new homes to meet minimum standards for space, amenity and comfort
• increasing democracy and involving communities in local plans and planning applications, including using digital technology like virtual reality and 3D modelling to help local people shape their own areas
• recognises that a lack of resources and expertise in local authority planning departments was contributing to wider design-evaluation problems and suggests a new planning “fast stream” could be a solution.

The full report is available via here.

Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice, said: “If the ambition to deliver more homes across the country is to be achieved, it must be in collaboration with communities. This report goes some way to helping that. We worked with communities from across the country to give them a voice into the Commission, and we are pleased to see the final report. This is a sensible report, with some actions that the the Government can act upon straight away, but also addresses some of the more complex issues. Do we agree with everything, no, but the overall tone, we support and we will welcome."

In relation to our own response to the Commission, we submitted evidence from over 750 community groups. Our message was clear: too many communities feel that development is done to them. We are pleased to see that our work on Statements of Community Involvement has been referenced and we are pleased to see a call for a 'more community-engaged design review process'. Our experience through the Civic Voice Design Awards has consistently shown that high quality design makes new residential developments more acceptable to local communities and delivers huge value to all, so the message is simple, let's collaborate with communities and build the homes the nation needs.

We will call on communities to read this report and to join our campaign as we push for 'planning powers' to be passed from Whitehall, via the town hall, to your local community hall.” 

Ian Harvey finished by saying: "We need a revolution in public engagement to put more democracy in the planning system. This report is part of the momentum that is building to make this revolution happen. We will be putting the date 30th January 2021 in the diary now to see what Government achieves in the next 12 months.”


The APPG for CIvic Societies will be meeting on March 17th and will hear from Nicholas Boys Smith who will discuss the report. Civic volunteers can register to attend here.