Editor: Mr Robert Jenrick announced some headline-grabbing planning policies at the Conservative Party Conference this week.
These included a new design guide to create a national set of standards for new home development, which follows the interim report published by the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission in July.
Measures to encourage good building design should be welcomed in principle by the development industry, and Jenrick will be hoping it plays well on the doorstep with voters.
A national design code could provide a level of certainty and consistency to the planning process. However, the planning system also needs to recognise local distinctiveness and viability – one size does not necessarily fit all and good design for one particular place will not necessarily be suitable for another.
The government recognises this, but it will be interesting to see how, as this policy progresses, it squares the circle between providing guidance that has suitable breadth to be usable across the country while not falling into the trap of adding mere vagary, of the sort government is seeking to avoid, to the NPPF and the wider planning system.
Neil Jones, partner, planning team, Rapleys