Planners want more say in housing design, survey finds

More than half of professional planners say they have limited influence in housing design and an overwhelming 87% want to have more say in this area, according to the latest survey conducted by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

While planners generally welcome the Government’s focus on improving the design of housing developments, only 11% think that design trumps other considerations in helping communities accept new development.

The majority (77%) believe design’s importance is equal to other factors such as affordability and availability of infrastructure. Twelve percent think it is a minor consideration.

The survey also shows the majority of respondents (57%) use some kind of tool or process to assess design quality, but many express the need for more national consistency and standards.

Eight-six percent of respondents want the Government to do more to promote the use of design codes and style guides.

More than 760 members responded to the RTPI’s online survey, the findings of which will inform the Institute’s efforts to enhance the profile and influence of planning in this vital issue.

Victoria Hills, RTPI Chief Executive, said:

“The findings will help demonstrate to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, and the Government, that planners stand ready to tackle the challenges of poor quality design and build of housing.

“The enthusiastic response to the survey shows how much our members care about housing design and want the Institute to do more to help them bring about places that are attractive, functional and of high quality to live in.

“There are key issues to do with the commerciality and culture of the wider housing market which take time to change. But there are things the Institute can do independent of that, for example looking into how we can provide our members with better training, and talking to the Planning Inspectorate about how rulings can give more ground to design.

Design will be a key theme in the RTPI’s planning convention in June, with the Government’s recently appointed architecture adviser Andy Von Bradsky as speaker.

Design industry leader Sadie Morgan has also been named Chair of the Judging Panel for the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2019. Sadie is a co-founding director of award-winning practice dRMM Architects, and currently chairs the Independent Design Panel for HS2.

The survey was sent to all RTPI members (except retired and student members) receiving a total of 764 responses in one week.