Can Investors Develop Beautiful Property?

Acquire | Invest | Develop

Property Investors always have two options in their portfolio-building activities; they can buy up existing properties with the potential of upgrading them, or start new developments from scratch, such as on a build-to-rent basis.

In all this, the question of aesthetics is one that may have often been overlooked, but not now. If modernist buildings in the 1960s were allowed to be ugly because they served some utopian ideal in the minds of architects, the government is now keen to call time on any such thing now, something those working with property development consultants will need to consider.

This was made clear by housing secretary Michel Gove in a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies’ Margaret Thatcher Conference on Growth, in which he pledged to use his powers to crack down on “ugly” developments. 

Accusing some construction firms of “using a restrictive pattern book with poor-quality materials,” Mr Gove added: “The aesthetic quality of what they produce is both disappointing and also not in keeping with the high aesthetic standards that may already exist”.

Stating that development codes are set to be applied more strictly, Mr Gove argued this approach is necessary if the government is to make good on its 2019 election manifesto pledge of raising annual house building numbers to 300,000, because attractive designs are more likely to be accepted by those living in existing homes nearby, reducing the numbers of objections and public enquiries.

Perhaps ironically, this commitment to avoiding ugly construction comes just as one of the biggest critics of modernist architecture has entered a self-imposed silence on such subjects upon becoming King. When he was Prince of Wales, Charles III was a vocal critic of many architectural creations, famously calling extension to the National Gallery a “monstrous carbuncle”.

This phrase led to the creation of namesake awards of the kind no architect or developer wanted to win, such as the Carbuncle Cup (which ran from 2006-2018) and Scotland’s Carbuncle Awards, which have been awarded to either towns or individual buildings.

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