Is housing design and planning safe in the Tories’ hands?

Inspired by the late philosopher Roger Scruton, the government talks about beauty, but promotes ugly development. If they’re serious about good design, they need a theory that’s not skin-deep The Conservative government likes beauty. It has said as much, through the mouths of ministers, so it must be true. “This government,” the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, recently told the Daily Telegraph , “will make sure that beautiful, well-designed homes and places are the expectation, not the exception.” It has created the Building Better, Building Beautiful commission in order to help “increase the use of high-quality design for new build homes and neighbourhoods”. Last week it produced a report, Living in Beauty , that argues that beauty should be legally enshrined in the planning system. But what’s this? Barely two weeks ago the same Robert Jenrick gave planning permission to a £1bn development called Westferry Printworks in London Docklands, against the strong objections of his own planning inspector. The