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Stuart Lipton: 'Let's put quality design back in house building'

1316499 stuart lipton

Veteran property developer Stuart Lipton has said that Theresa May’s government needs to put quality design back into housebuilding

Lipton – former CABE chair and partner at Lipton Rogers Developments LLP – was speaking at an event in central London organised by the Policy Exchange think tank discussing the future of housing under the new government.

With his partner Peter Rogers, Lipton is currently developing 22 Bishopsgate building, designed by the PLP Architecture. The £1 billion 62-storey tower, which is currently on site, will be the tallest in the City of London. 

He argued that architectural quality needs to return to housing design and that ‘every piece of housing legislation since 1947 has essentially failed’.

Lipton said: ’Let’s put quality back into the ordinary. In the past 10 years no one’s talked about the “A” word – no architecture at all.’ 

New prime minister Theresa May has already promised ‘more housebuilding’ under her leadership, however she did not go into detailed numbers or how this would be achieved.

Lipton previously developed the Broadgate Centre, a banking hub in the City of London, which opened in 1985. He was chair at CABE from 1999 to 2004.

Demetri Porphyrios, principal of Porphyrios Associates, also spoke about the design of urban spaces. He said: ’Cities must be human, otherwise they are unlivable […] Civility in architecture and cities is similar to civility in human relations.’

He added: ’We are in a very good position in Great Britain to talk about a new model for housing and a new model for urbanisation.’ 

Also present at the talk was Alex Morton, former special advisor to the prime minister on housing and planning. Morton too admitted that the ’the quality of design in this country is not good enough’ and said there is far too much ‘micromanaging’ in the planning system. 

In addition, Lipton argued that the current system did not allow architects to design housing effectively. He said: ’There are damn good architects in this country, letting them exercise their skill is not in the planning system.’

Lipton also urged that we need to ’build communities not just housing’, with libraries, village greens and communal areas. ‘Let’s go back to some civic values,’ he said. 

He insisted that ’If we had a surplus supply, we’d have quality with it’ and that good design would not necessarily cost more. 

Last week a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Excellence in the Built Environment called for a new homes ombudsman to help drive up housebuilding quality and customer services (see AJ 19.07.16). The group warned that new housing was failing to meet the quality demanded by consumers and urged housebuilders ’to put consumers at the heart of what they do’.


Readers' comments (3)

  • John Kellett

    Better quality housing design? Easy to solve. Get it designed by qualified architects and engineers not planners and Councillors. Planners and Councillors set the brief not design the result. In fact, most architects can work with the town planners, Councillors and developers to create a better brief.

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  • Here is the hard-to-swallow kernel of truth for architects in Sir Stuart's remarks: "...put quality back into the ordinary. In the past 10 years no one’s talked about the “A” word – no architecture at all."

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    Take aesthetics out of Planning Control for all building sectors (I don't even think is in there, they have just seized it).
    Make density, height, pollution, traffic impact, parking and the like, the only factors they can control. No design statement, or superfluous rubbish unless there is a clear case for it.
    and tell them 8 weeks for a Planning decision and 3 weeks for a Pre-App.
    The first 2 weeks is for Roads and Drainage etc. comments, plus they have to list any extra info. required within that period.
    Planner time can only be spent to the value of the Application fee @ £80/hr for staff resources.
    No supplementary charges for Section 106 nonsense (Compliance officer charges, F.G.C.)

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