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Government rejects call by peers for built environment specialist

Published: Thursday, 10th November 2016

The National Policy for the Built Environment Committee's recommendation for the creation of a Chief Built Environment Adviser has been refused by the government…

The government has rejected a call from a House of Lords committee for the creation of a so-called Chief Built Environment Adviser who would co-ordinate relevant policy across central government departments and act as a champion for higher standards and to promote good practice across and beyond government.

That was one of a slew of recommendations made by the newly established National Policy for the Built Environment Committee. The committee argued that this new adviser would have a status and role broadly equivalent to that of the government Chief Scientific Adviser.

In a 44-page response to this first report from this committee, the government said it recognised that “the built environment cuts across a number of central government departments” but insisted there was strong policy co-ordination on matters that affect the built environment.

“At present the Chief Planner provides the central leadership to ensure the planning system supports the delivery of housing growth, climate change, sustainable economic development and works to protect and enhance the natural environment.

“The Chief Planner’s priorities include helping local authorities deliver their local plans for better housing and sustainable communities and to ensure that planning promotes the development of prosperous and vibrant communities.”

It added: “The transfer of responsibilities for architecture from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Department for Communities and Local Government will ensure that housing and planning policy is more closely aligned with good architecture.

“We will look at developing the Chief Planner role to include discussing and facilitating communication and implementation of policy on the built environment and to identifying and sharing good practice across and beyond government” said the document. It added: “We consider this a better use of resources than creating a specific new senior role.”

The administration also gave the cold shoulder to calls from the committee for a community right of appeal.

Read the government response.

Roger Milne