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Northern Europe holds the key to quality housebuilding

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Housebuilders and local authorities should look to the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden for architectural expertise, according to Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment chief executive Jon Rouse.

Rouse is a long-term admirer of Dutch urban design in particular and said that the northern European countries could provide a basis for better housing design in the UK. He also rubbished the focus on Barcelona as a model for better housing design in the UK.

Housing is one of the building types in most urgent need and over the next 10 years the population of London alone will grow by 800,000.

'There is a lot we can learn from this part of Europe, ' he told the audience of housebuilders and local authority planners at a housing conference last week. 'Don't worry too much about accusations about jollies, just get over there, see the architects and see the local authorities. I am tired of people going on about Barcelona as the climate and the culture does not make it a particularly appropriate comparison.'

He also called for housebuilders to 'open their doors and establish partnerships with local and national architects'.

The international approach reflects the fact that CABE has no responsibility to promote the UK profession and its own value statement makes it clear that 'we are for architecture, not for architects'.

The comments came as CABE revealed it is planning to almost double its scrutiny of housing design in the next year.

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