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Government report backs controversial design codes

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Design codes increase architectural standards and the speed of delivery in new housing developments, a key government report claims.

The report, released yesterday - which examines seven case studies where coding was used - insists that the contentious planning mechanism will have a positive impact on new homes.

These case studies, run by CABE and English Partnerships and implemented on actual developments, were set up after Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who was formerly responsible for the housing brief, became interested in places like Seaside in Florida and Prince Charles' Poundbury.

Not all the schemes have run smoothly. In August last year it emerged that one of the case studies was suffering major problems ( Design codes pilot a 'fiasco').

However Baroness Andrews, a minister at the Department of Communities and Local Government, the ODPM's successor, attempted to sweep these concerns to one side.

She insisted that the codes had led to a 'more efficient, transparent development process' that in 'some locations' had set 'new benchmarks for design quality'.

'The government is committed to putting high-quality design at the heart of planning,' she said. 'We have reformed the planning system to ensure that good design is an integral part of any new development coming forward.

'The challenge now is for local authorities and developers to take these new approaches on board and to make sure that bad design is a thing of the past,' the minister added.

by Ed Dorrell

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