Independent of questions of numbers and location is the design of new developments. The history of development in Canterbury provides ample evidence of how good design can enhance the appearance of an area, creating neighbourhoods which people cherish and maintain, while bad design can alienate its inhabitants and condemn an area to instant dilapidation. Unfortunately, in an era of volume building, the tendency of developers is to cut costs by compromising on design, be it the appearance of buildings, the space between different structures, the layout of the land and the provision of open spaces. Even developments which are well-designed at the outset frequently suffer from detrimental changes at the point of construction designed to cut costs.
Given the scale of house-building which the Council is proposing, it is vital that the quality of new housing is high. Poorly conceived and executed developments could blight the city for decades while, conversely, well-designed schemes could enhance the existing environment. In this context, the Canterbury Society is pushing hard for the creation of a Design Review Panel modeled on the lines of existing panels in other local authorities, which scrutinizes plans new developments prior to approval being given and give planning authorities access independent design expertise in a timely and cost-effective way. We are also pressing the Council to enforce the plans which its own planning department approves and not to accept compromises to the design and use of material at the point of construction.