Gove backs new design school to challenge ‘indifferent and insipid’ town planning
Michael Gove has said new housing developments are let down by “indifferent or insipid” town planning, as he calls for a new school for designing.
The Levelling Up Secretary made his comments in a foreword for the conservative think tank Policy Exchange, in which he bemoaned modern architecture, saying “all too frequently in Britain the places around it do not” flourish.
Backing a new school for urban design, Gove criticised the building of “what would otherwise be good housing developments let down by poor landscaping or indifferent or insipid urban character”.
He asked “how many public spaces are poorly designed, managed and maintained” across the country, adding that “if we accept that places are integral to levelling up and design is integral to places, then what can we identify as being central to design? The answer is unmistakably clear: education.”
“We must do all we can to ensure a new generation of built environment professionals are armed with the best skills and techniques possible to enable them to go out and build beautiful, sustainable places in which people and communities can thrive.”
In the Policy Exchange foreword, he wrote that with new projects, much of the opposition “is often grounded in a fear that the quality of the new buildings and places created will be deficient and therefore detrimental to existing neighbourhoods and properties.”
He called for “general improvement in the standard of design” to reassure the public that neighbourhoods would not be blighted.
His comments came in a report entitled ‘A School of Place: How a New School of Architecture can Revitalise Britain’s Built Environment’, which made the case for creating a new national architecture and urban planning school.
The report calls for the new intake to be “rigorously multidisciplinary” with architects, planners, designers, engineers and consultants, to address divisions and conflicts across these fields.
It also says designs should “incorporate and reflect public views”, but it would “not reduce the built environment to a popularity contest” and would put forward “stylistic neutrality”.
Lisa Nandy MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary said, “Michael Gove should spend more time dealing with his own rebellious backbenchers who forced him to water down housing targets.
“The thousands of families who saw their dreams of home ownership go up in smoke after the Tories crashed the economy need a real plan for more homes to be built.
“Labour have set a target to increase homeownership to 70 per cent in our first term of government, with plans to give first time buyers first dibs on new built homes and a mortgage guarantee scheme to support them onto the housing ladder.”