A coalition of Richard Rogers, the RIBA and a highly respected Conservative peer has launched a campaign to 'place design at the heart' of the government's planning reforms.
The alliance has tabled a series of motions during this week's House of Lords Planning Bill debate that - if adopted - will put 'architecture at the forefront of the changes'.
The three amendments would ensure that design is pivotal in the reformed planning process. The first, and most general, requires that all those 'exercising planning functions do so with a view to the achievement of high-quality design'.
And if the following two amendments were voted into law they would force all planning applicants to 'attach a statement of design principles' with all submissions, for both full and outline applications.
'This would fix the urban design framework for the development, ' the second amendment reads, 'by including, at least, its massing, layout, density, building heights, mix of uses, landscaping and public space.'
Rogers said that he believes the amendment would make a real difference to the Planning Bill, 'ending the drift and abuse which has characterised design in the past'.
'The bill represents an ideal opportunity to inject a sense of purpose into a reformed planning system, ' he said. 'As I said at second reading, while it is long on structure, it is short on aspiration.' (AJ 8.1.04) RIBA government relations officer Stephen Harding agreed. 'I believe we stand a very good chance of getting these changes adopted, ' he said. 'The government is in the mood to negotiate at the moment.'
Harding said the RIBA had been encouraged by the government's change of heart last week, reinstating the authority of county councils in the planning process. 'I think ministers will understand that these changes substantially improve the reforms and give them support in the chamber, ' he said.
The amendments' Conservative co-sponsor, Lord Lucas, added: 'It is very important that we have a serious debate about the importance of good design before we pass the Planning Bill into law.'