Today’s announcement of the local authorities that will test the application of the government's new design code has been welcomed by the Royal Town Planning Institute.
Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said that the 14 shortlisted councils would take part in a 6-month testing programme to apply the National Model Design Code (NMDC) in their area.
In response, the RTPI said the pilot schemes would help identify problems that might arise in the code’s application, but warned that increased resourcing was needed for local authority planning teams if the scheme was to be rolled out across the country.
RTPI Chief Executive Victoria Hills said:
“The Government’s announcement today of the 14 places which will take part in a testing programme for the National Model Design Code is a pragmatic way of identifying problems that may arise in the application of the code and will also hopefully provide some potential solutions.
“The RTPI has no doubt that only a multi-disciplinary approach - involving planners, architects, developers, ecologists, highways authorities and communities - will lead to effective delivery of quality design outcomes. These pilot programmes should help to identify how these relationships will work in practice. We will keep a close eye on the results.
“However, what is already clear is that substantial extra investment into the planning system will be needed if planners are to play their part fully - almost 90% of our members have told us that they want to prioritise ‘beauty’ in their work but lack the policy support and resources to do so.
“As part of our submission to the 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review, we said that a Design Quality Fund of £81 million was needed to support cash-strapped local authorities through design training, specialist expertise and design-focused policy.
“These pilot programmes are an encouraging start but it is only through significantly increased funding for local authority planning teams that the government’s ambitions for Design Codes in every council will be realised.”
>> The RTPI is currently inviting bids from interested parties to undertake research on design codes, net zero and nature recovery - more information here.