Sink estates to be transformed into beautiful places to live

The Prime Minister announced yesterday that some of the country’s most run-down housing estates will be replaced with attractive and safe homes, as part of a series of measures to end poverty and improve the life chances of the most disadvantaged.

ResPublica welcomes the announcement, having put this case to Government last July in its seminal Community Right to Beauty report, backed by Dame Fiona Reynolds on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.

We argued that widespread experience of beauty is integral to the creation of a just society, and should therefore be at the heart of public policy and local planning. Building on a substantial body of evidence, our report outlined that beauty is a major contributor to good health and wellbeing, a strong and participative civil society, local economic growth, safe communities and the overall quality of a place, alongside a wealth of inherent value that cannot be reduced to social and economic analysis.

Caroline Julian, ResPublica's Deputy Director, said:

"Our Community Right to Beauty report found that a staggeringly high household income – £45,000 per year – more than £10,000 above the national average, gives you better access to beautiful surroundings. This inequality has a significant impact on health and wellbeing. Uglier places also see higher levels of anti-social behaviour, crime and more litter.

David Cameron by Willwal (GDFL)

By Willwal (GDFL)

As a country, we have been singularly failing the poor, which is why we welcome the Prime Minister's announcement. But much more needs to be done. We need to ensure that all communities – not just the few – are at the heart of shaping and improving their local places, and empower them to take a lead on such improvements themselves."

ResPublica says it will therefore continue to call for greater powers for communities to shape and improve their local places. As set out in our Community Right to Beauty report, achieving this outcome will not simply be a matter of introducing new legislation or quick short term measures, but rather a long term cultural shift that requires a far more strategic and step by step approach.

Respublica plans to establish a year-long Backing Beauty’ Commission, to commence in March 2016, with the specific aim to ensure greater support for our principles from influential stakeholders. Guided by a high level Steering Group, and backed by NGOs, developers, policy-makers and communities, the Commission will oversee a range of targeted outputs throughout the twelve months, and will conclude with the publication of a report and a large reception.

The Backing Beauty Commission holds real potential to bring about a cultural step-change amongst key influencers – one that will see a greater understanding of beauty and a higher importance appended to the creation of beautiful places. But we can’t do this alone. We are calling for partners to join us to support the Commission, and to contribute to the range of outputs we plan to deliver.

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