Introduce tax relief for landowners who build beautiful homes

  • UK towns scarred by architects and planners, says Housing Minister in Foreword to new essay collection

  • Planning policy used as “smoke screen” by developers, says Prince’s charity

Landowners who commit to building beautiful homes on their land should be given tax relief, it is argued in a new collection of essays from Policy Exchange.

Charles Dugdale, a Partner at the real estate consultancy Knight Frank, argues that landowners who participate in housing development on their land should be charged the lower rate of capital gains tax rather than income tax, which would encourage a new generation of landowners to build beautiful developments the way places like Mayfair, Marylebone and Belgravia in London and the older parts of Glasgow and Edinburgh were built centuries ago.

In the same collection, Ben Bolgar, Senior Director of The Prince’s Foundation, argues that housing developers “manipulate” local communities and do not care what they think, saying that “unfortunately, in many cases [planning policies] have provided a smokescreen to some developers building to a low quality, who have been able to regurgitate guidance line by line to justify their proposals to the local planners and planning committees.”

The suggestions are made in an essay collection to be published by the think tank Policy Exchange that argues new housing development must be beautiful.

The publication’s foreword is written by Esther McVey, the Housing Minister, who says:

“Beauty has been neglected in policy-making for too long and this has allowed too many of our proud towns to be scarred by architects and planners who have no regard for what local residents want.”

In his first speech as Prime Minister on domestic policy, Boris Johnson said that his Government would “emphasise the need, the duty, to build beautiful homes that people actually want to live in, and being sensitive to local concerns.”

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission – an independent body set up to advise the Government on how to tackle the challenge of poor-quality design and build of homes and places – is set to issue its final report to the Government by the end of the year.

Other contributions to the essay collection include:

  • Greg Beales, Campaign Director at Shelter, argues that social housing should be at the forefront of the Government’s push for beauty and better design.
  • Robert Kerr, an architect and Director at ADAM Architecture, who decries “dreary, ugly and bizarre [office] buildings” that dominate and loom over cities. Instead he argues for a shift towards beautiful mid-rise office developments.


Notes to Editors

You can read an embargoed copy of the essay collection here. The full list of essays in Building Beautiful: A collection of essays on the design, style and economicsof the built environment is below.

If you would like to reproduce any of them for publication, or for further information, please contact Amy Gray on 07776 124660.

  • Why beauty, urbanism and stewardship will matter to investors in the 21st Century by Prof Yolande Barnes, Chair of the Bartlett Real Estate Institute at University College London and Adviser to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission
  • Can beauty be found in office buildings? by Robert Kerr, architect and a Director at the architecture practice ADAM Architecture
  • Why we should engage with communities and not consult them by Ben Bolgar, Senior Director at The Prince’s Foundation and Adviser to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission
  • How the Government can support landowners to build beautiful devel­opments by Charles Dugdale, Partner at the residential and commercial property consultancy Knight Fran
  • Can volume-built housing be beautiful? by Gillian Horn, architect and Partner at the architecture practice Penoyre & Prasad
  • Rediscovering natural beauty in the built environment by Benedict McAleenan, Senior Adviser to Policy Exchange’s Energy and Environment Unit
  • Homes for communities not profit: A mutual approach to delivering new housing by Sara Bennison, Chief Marketing Officer at Nationwide Building Society
  • Social housing – more, better and beautiful? by Greg Beales, Campaign Director at the housing charity Shelter
  • “A Prescription for Fairness”: Beauty and Public Participation by Dr Sue Chadwick, Strategic Planning Advisor at the law firm Pinsent Masons
  • How development can enhance the landscape and built heritage by Richard Hebditch, Government Affairs Director at the National Trust
  • Where does beauty fit into the mortgage process? by Charlie Blagborough, Policy Manager at the Building Societies Association
  • What legal structures will facilitate legacy development projects? by Charles Anderson, a Partner at the law firm Farrer & Co
  • Building what, where and when – and for whom? by Simon Hodson, Head of Residential Land at the real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle

In January 2019, Policy Exchange published Building Beautiful: A collection of essays on the design, style and economics of the built environment. Then Housing Minister Kit Malthouse contributed the Foreword, and it included essays from Syrian architect Marwa al-Sabouni, pollster Martin Boon, author Nicholas Boys Smith, Jon Cruddas MP, architect Terry Farrell, Zac Goldsmith MP and philosopher Roger Scruton.

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission is due to present its final report to Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, by the end of this year. The Secretary of State will then formally respond on behalf of the Government to the Commission’s analysis and recommendations.

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