Government pursuing a strong design agenda - is that enough?

For the second year running the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government organised a substantial conference or symposium on design. The first was in London and had speeches by both the Secretary of State and the Minster for Housing; this second one was in Birmingham and the Communities Minister from the House of Lords spoke - Parliament and Brexit was the focus for the SOS and Minister.  Apart from this difference there were a few others: the MHCLG has set up a Commission chaired by Sir Roger Scruton - Building Better, Building Beautiful but the focus of that seems to be primarily aesthetics. Secondly, however, whereas the first symposium had no mention of transport this recent one did on a number of occasions.  Perhaps the pressure applied after the first event bore fruit?

The importance of transport as part of Place design was included in a number of the presentations including that by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority and also by Steve Quartermain, Chief Planner MHCLG and George Clarke, Architect and campaigner to name but some.  In addition there was a workshop held on Infrastructure, highways and homes chaired by Lynda Addison which was the largest one held. It included a brief presentation about the work CIHT, TPS, RTPI and others are doing on the integration of planning and transport as well as presentations from Phil Jones on Manual for Streets and Kay Hughes on the recent work of the National Infrastructure Commission.

At the conference contact was made with Sir Roger Scruton and other Commissioners plus those working on the new design guidelines within the Ministry. The aim will be to ensure that the importance of transport to the functionality and quality of place is critical and needs to be an integral part of their consideration. Watch this space!



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