A recent essay by the Prince of Wales in The Architectural Review included some very sensible principles for the development of new buildings.
With regards to materials he said:
“In the UK, as elsewhere, we have become dependent upon bland, standardized building materials. There is much too much concrete, plastic cladding, aluminium, glass and steel employed, which lends a place no distinctive character. For buildings to look as if they belong, we need to draw on local building materials and regional traditional styles.”
On the subject of street clutter he observed:
“Signs, lights and utilities. They can be easily overused. We should also bury as many wires as possible and limit signage. A lesson learned from Poundbury is that it is possible to rid the street of nearly all road signs by using ‘events’ like a bend, square or tree every 60-80 metres, which cause drivers to slow down naturally.”
Size also matters, of course. Kensington and Chelsea shows that high density can be achieved without high rise:
“Not only should buildings relate to human proportions, they should correspond to the scale of the other buildings and elements around them. Too many of our towns have been spoiled by casually placed, oversized buildings of little distinction that carry no civic meaning.”
There should be “harmony − the playing together of all parts.” This does not mean uniformity:
“The look of each building should be in tune with its neighbours, which does not mean creating uniformity. Richness comes from diversity, as Nature demonstrates, but there must be coherence, which is often achieved by attention to details like the style of door cases, balconies, cornices and railings.”
I can’t think of a more effective way to defeat the Nimbys and to boost popular support for property development than for local authorities to adopt these principles in their planning policies.