October 1, 2019 - 8:12am

“Communities will get the legal right to fight ugly buildings and poorly designed new homes in their towns and villages” we learn from The Telegraph.

the Nansledan housing development

Just what this “right to fight ugliness” adds up to will become clearer when the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) publishes the “first ever guide to set out the Government’s minimum design requirements for new homes.”

But it looks like Sir Roger Scruton and Nicholas Boys Smith, the co-chairs of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission are being listened to.

On the other hand, there’s also news, via Jason Groves of the Daily Mail, that “families will be able to add two storeys to their homes without planning permission… Homeowners will still need to comply with building regulations, but neighbours will not have a formal route to object.”

Really? How would such a monumentally stupid idea be consistent with a right to fight ugliness?

For obvious reasons, the new right to extend upwards could only apply to detached homes, but does the Government think this will improve the look of our streets? The amount of trouble this would cause between neighbours doesn’t bear thinking about. You could hand out a free rocket launcher to every resident and still have less of a chance of igniting civil war in suburbia.

There’s a reason why architecture that’s allowed to evolve over centuries follows particular forms and typologies. Disrupting the traditional suburban streetscape won’t create many new dwellings (most will be extensions of already big houses), but it will create a whole lot of ugly.

One step forward, one step back.

Peter Franklin is Associate Editor of UnHerd. He was previously a policy advisor and speechwriter on environmental and social issues.