More than 760 RTPI members responded to the online survey on design that was undertaken earlier this year, the findings of which are set out in this research paper. It has been prepared following the Institute's detailed May 2019 submission in response to the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission's Call for Evidence. That submission reflected not only the survey findings, but also wider RTPI views on quality design.
"The [survey] findings will demonstrate to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, and the Government, that planners stand ready to tackle the challenges of poor quality design and build of housing.
"The enthusiastic response to the survey shows how much our members care about housing design and want the Institute to do more to help them bring about places that are attractive, functional and of high quality to live in.
"There are key issues to do with the commerciality and culture of the wider housing market which take time to change. But there are things the Institute can do independent of that, for example looking into how we can provide our members with better training, and talking to the Planning Inspectorate about how rulings can give more ground to design." (Victoria Hills, RTPI Chief Executive)
The survey found that at least half of professional planners had limited influence in housing design: an overwhelming 87% wanted to have more say in this area. But while planners generally welcome the Government's focus on improving the design of housing developments, only 11% think that design trumps other considerations in helping communities accept new development. The majority (77%) of respondents believe design's importance is equal to other factors such as affordability and availability of infrastructure; 12% see it as a minor consideration.
The survey also found that the majority of respondents (57%) use some kind of tool or process to assess design quality - many express the need for more national consistency and standards.
86% of respondents want the Government to do more to promote the use of design codes and style guides.
The survey findings and the RTPI response to the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission's Call for Evidence will inform the Institute's efforts to enhance the profile and influence of planning on this vital issue. From both the survey and the submission to the Commission, the key issues and potential solutions identified for achieving design quality are summarised below.
 Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/building-better-building-beautiful-commission