Fawley Waterside, Hampshire: a hollow classical tribute act

Despite the government’s new planning design codes, this New Forest ‘mercantile city’ development resembles a prissy Poundbury, at odds with its wild setting The government calls it a “fast-track to beauty”. It means a set of rules, clearly stated by public bodies, about what constitutes good architecture. In the recent white paper Planning for the Future, it proposes that a development that follows these rules – or “design codes” – automatically gets planning permission. That way, a minimum standard of quality is set, without the kerfuffle of subjective argumentation that goes with committees discussing what is and is not beautiful. Which processes, to judge by the built environment we see around us, are not particularly successful. It’s an attractive idea. Georgian London and 20th-century Manhattan were built roughly along these lines, and they’re generally considered to be successful examples of city-building. The point is partly to make the process foolproof – a developer who follows these rules doesn’t have to be a genius at design to produce a tolerable result – and also to achieve a degree of coherence between different bits of building, and between old and new. At times the design code seems to be a tedious guessing game, to which the correct answer is always 'neo-Georgian' Continue reading...

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