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Government action plan: 'minimum design threshold' for all public buildings

The Government has unveiled its new World Class Places Strategy Action Plan, which includes a ‘challenging’ design threshold for all new building programmes

The plan, which was hinted at by Prime Minister Gordon Brown earlier this month at a reception at No. 10, aims to create high-quality homes and neighbourhoods which are ‘safe and more sustainable places to live in’.

Published by Culture Secretary and the Government’s Design Champion Ben Bradshaw together with Housing Minister Ian Austin, the document calls for new design thresholds – minimum standards that have already been by the Department for Schools and Families for its school building programme.

As well as setting out how the government intends to work with the likes of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), CABE and English Heritage, the plans also outlines new research looking at the links between design quality and economic benefits and proposes strengthening advisory support on design quality for local authorities, the wider public sector and developers.

The RIBA has welcomed the plan. Anna Scott-Marshall, Head of Public Affairs at the RIBA said: ‘[We are] supportive of the strategy which we hope will lead to a truly joined-up approach to the quality of places and spaces.

‘There is much that can be done to support Government departments, clients and Local authorities in the delivery of world class places including our recent joint guidance together with CABE, RTPI and Landscape Institute on design review panels at a local level.

‘One of the most challenging areas of the action plan will be implementing a minimum design threshold for all new public building programmes from spring 2010. Once thresholds are agreed the use of Client Design Advisers can help clients in delivering this.’

She added: ‘As outlined in the action plan, demonstrating the link between quality and economic benefits through research will be very valuable and we look forward to this action in particular.’

Click here to read the full action plan.

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