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RTPI survey reveals planners' horror over housing design standards

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The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has published details of a massive survey of the planning profession, that makes clear its despair at the design standard in housebuilding.

The report shows that in the experience of more than 60 per cent of planners, less than half of planning applications for major housing developments have taken architects' advice.

This statistic will come as a blow to both the government and CABE, who have been campaigning to improve design standards in new housing.

But, according to the research and comments made by respondents, this message has not hit home in the vast majority of cases.

One respondent, when questioned on the subject of planning applications from housebuilders, said: 'Nearly all of the big housing developers are guilty of seeking to cram as many of their standard range of house types on all their sites, regardless of their local environment.

'The designs of the houses put forward are usually bland, unimaginative and pastiche adaptations of old architectural styles with little attempt to explore new architectural ideas, which will offer choice.'

RTPI president Clive Harridge said: 'What is clear from this survey is that planners and housebuilders need to improve their relationship.

'Planners have a role to play in helping housebuilders to meet their design and environmental responsibilities.

'Both strict new rules and fiscal incentives need to be explored to encourage developers in the right direction. This may be delivered at a local level or by government,' he added.

by Ed Dorrell

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