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Roger Scruton names Building Better, Building Beautiful commissioners

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Chair of the government’s beauty watchdog Roger Scruton has revealed the names of the design body’s four commissioners – with none of the roles filled by an architect

The Building Better, Building Beautiful commissioners team has been confirmed as landscape architect Kim Wilkie, Nicholas Boys Smith of lobby group Create Streets, chair of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) Mary Parsons, and Gail Mayhew, a property consultant.

While there are no architects on the commission, former RIBA president Sunand Prasad and AHMM’s Paul Monaghan have been announced as two of nine ’specialist advisers’.

Launched in November, the watchdog has been tasked with developing practical measures to ensure new housing developments are ’more likely to be welcomed rather than resisted’.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: ’This commission will play a crucial role in ensuring the homes communities need are built, accepted and loved by those who live in and near them.

’I’m delighted Roger is being joined by such a talented team of highly respected professionals, along with a list of distinguished advisers who will bring a wealth of expertise and a range of viewpoints.’

The commission has been steeped in controversy, particularly over the decision to appoint Scruton as its chair.

In his first lecture under the ‘Building Beautiful’ banner, Scruton delivered an attack on contemporary architecture, arguing the ’degradation of our cities is the result of a Modernist vernacular’.

Accused by architects of reigniting the ‘Style Wars’ of the 1980s, housing secretary Kit Malthouse was forced to step in and defend the commissions’ aims, which he said was to get ‘everyone singing from the same hymn sheet’.

Last month in a debate at Central St Martins at school in King’s Cross, Scruton conceded the commission could be a decoy to distract from some of the UK’s more pressing housing issues.

Meeting once a month, the commission will produce a report once it has come up with recommendations on how the government can improve the quality of new homes.

Beauty commissioners

  • Gail Mayhew – A property consultant with experience in regeneration and place making. Ms Mayhew is currently advising Urban Catalyst in the regeneration of Purfleet in Thurrock. She is an advocate of community engagement in the planning process, assisting groups to change the design of major proposals.
  • Mary Parsons – Currently the Chair and a trustee of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), Ms Parsons has over 25 years’ experience working in the development and construction sector and is a group director of  Places for People. Developments she is responsible for include a 10,000 home new community at Gilston in Hertfordshire, two new neighbourhoods on the Olympic Park and a new urban neighbourhood in Birmingham.
  • Nicholas Boys Smith – The founding director of Create Streets, which was set up to promote high-density, street-based developments that involve the community. Boys Smith has also led urban design projects and studies into the built environment, publishing a number of books on the role of design and architecture.
  • Kim Wilkie – A landscape architect and environmental planner, Wilkie has sat on several bodies advising on design – including the Mayor of London’s Public Realm Advisory Group and the Royal Parks Advisory Board. He also holds an Honorary Fellowship at the Royal Institute of British Architects and is currently leading the redesign of the Natural History Museum’s historic grounds.

Specialist advisers

  • Stephen Stone, executive chairman of Crest Nicholson
  • Sunand Prasad, senior partner and co-founder of Penoyre & Prasad and past president of the RIBA
  • Ben Bolgar, senior director of The Prince’s Foundation
  • Fiona Reynolds, master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge
  • Adrian Penfold, adviser on Planning and Public Affairs
  • Peter Studdert, chair of Quality Review Panels for the London Legacy Development Corporation and Haringey Council
  • Patrick James, founding director of The Landscape Agency
  • Paul Monaghan, director of AHMM and Design Council trustee
  • Yolande Barnes, professor of real estate at UCL
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