A commission to champion beautiful buildings as an integral part of the drive to build the kind of new homes communities need has been announced by the Government.
The Building Better, Beautiful Commission will develop a vision and practical measures to help ensure new developments meet the needs and expectations of communities, making them more likely to be welcomed rather than resisted.
Secretary of State for Housing, James Brokenshire, explained that the move follows the recent rewriting of the planning rulebook to strengthen expectations for design quality and community engagement when planning for development.
He pointed out that the new rules also ensure more consideration can be given to the character of the local area and the commission will take that work further by expanding on the ways in which the planning system can encourage and incentivise a greater emphasis on design, style and community consent.
He also believes that it will raise the level of debate regarding the importance of beauty in the built environment and aims to promote better design and style of homes, villages, towns and high streets, to reflect what communities want, building on the knowledge and tradition of what they know works for their area.
It also aims to explore how new settlements can be developed with greater community consent and to make the planning system work in support of better design and style, not against it.
‘Most people agree we need to build more for future generations, but too many still feel that new homes in their local area just aren’t up to scratch. Part of making the housing market work for everyone is helping to ensure that what we build, is built to last. That it respects the integrity of our existing towns, villages and cities,’ said Brokenshire.
‘This will become increasingly important as we look to create a number of new settlements across the country and invest in the infrastructure and technology they will need to be thriving and successful places,’ he added.
‘This commission will kick start a debate about the importance of design and style, helping develop practical ways of ensuring new developments gain the consent of communities, helping grow a sense of place, not undermine it. This will help deliver desperately needed homes, ultimately building better and beautiful will help us build more,’ he concluded.
Welcoming the announcement Policy Exchange director Dean Godson said that its research and polling has found that local support for development increases across all income groups when beauty is made a priority.
‘This commission represents a fantastic first step. Placing beauty at the heart of housing policy is the biggest idea in a generation,’ he added.
Sir Roger Scruton has been appointed to chair the commission, with further commissioners to be announced in due course.
Rents in Barcelona have fallen and the latest forecast suggests that they are set to fall by around 5% in the third quarter of 2018 to around €17.3 per square meter.
The figures from property portal Idealista show that the fall in rents was most notable in the prime districts such as Eixample where they were down by 9% to €17.7 per square metre, in Gràcia down by 7% to €16.5 per square metre and in Barcelona Old Town down by 3% to €19.1 per square metre.
However, rents are not falling in all parts of Barcelona. For example, the areas of Nou Barris and Horta Guinardó saw rents rise, up 8% and 5% respectively.
There has been a readjustment in rental prices in Barcelona which were beginning to be beyond the reach of many residents, according to Rod Jamieson, managing director of real estate agents Lucas Fox.
‘The cost of living is continues to be lower than that of many other major European cities, not to mention the huge lifestyle benefits, and so Barcelona continues to be a major lure for foreign entrepreneurs and professionals,’ he pointed out.
‘For property investors, the Catalan capital also remains an extremely attractive proposition with rental returns of up to 5% in some prime districts,’ he explained.
Indeed, figures from Lucas Fox shows that its number of rental completions increased by 36% in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period on 2017 and up 76% in the first nine months of the year.
Idealista figures also show that average rents in Valencia were up by 10% at the end of the third quarter of 2018, at €9 per square metre, compared to the end.