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Newsletter, January 2004 (Issue 154)

Noddy Housing


The Ipswich Society has long campaigned against poor quality exterior design; it comes as no surprise that the interiors are equally unimaginative and impractical. The Ravenswood development is Ipswich's latest example.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) was set up by the Government incorporating the Royal Fine Art Commission to do what it says in its title. To achieve this it intends to find Local Design Champions throughout the country. Unfortunately no one has either come forward or been selected in Ipswich. If they had, perhaps we might have avoided some recent follies such as the apartment block behind the Foyer in Waterworks Street, Ravenswood and numerous smaller residential developments.

Discussions with the Borough Council's Development Officers show that there is little that either they or we can do to alter the niindset of the developer. When modern design has improved the quality of so much in the visual, tactile and practical life of the ordinary consumer, the housing industry should be ashamed of itself. The current range of Fords from Ka through Focus to Mondeo exemplifies that good design does sell, and it is patronising to their customers to say that house buyers only want pastiches. Go to Currys and Comet for electrical goods or Ikea and DFS for furniture and see what modern designs do roll off the shelves.

Now Mr Prescott intends to introduce "a package of building regulation and planning reforms to enforce better standards" to stop developers building "Noddy box veneer housing." His paper delivered to a "better building" conference in October makes stirring reading. This is encouraging, particularly if there are teeth in the planning consents to deny the rubbish. Personally, I feel that our Council Development Officers need the time and the personnel to carry out more proactive planning of possible developments. I think that here there may be a role for the Society and we should be more proactive in the future rather than merely responding at the application stage.

MIKE COOK
Ipswich Society Planning Co-ordinator

    Front cover of issue 154 Cover, issue 154

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