Jowell pushes public realm design

The role of public spaces in building communities remains important to the government, a senior minister says.

Culture and sport minister Tessa Jowell put her problems aside to reaffirm the role of public spaces in building communities at a CABE event for 20 parliamentarians in London last week. Jowell, who faced a row about her husband’s financial affairs, attacked “sixties brutalism”. She spoke of the “excitement” of moving into a new home and the “disappointment” of finding there is “not enough open space around it”. Jowell said good design played a “crucial role” in open spaces: “This has to become not an optional add-on but integral to the justification for the investment that we make in democratic spaces we can all enjoy as communities.” Ed Balls MP welcomed the launch of the booklet, Buildings & Spaces: Why Design Matters. He said: “Design is part of the process of economic regeneration.” The booklet encourages MPs and peers to champion good design in their constituencies. It gives examples of why good design is important in health, education, homes, crime prevention, environment, community and economy. It claims nine out of 10 councils find CABE’s parks advice “useful”. CABE chairman John Sorrell said “massive investment” in new buildings and parks does not guarantee a good legacy and that design champions such as Kensington & Chelsea deputy leader Daniel Moylan, who fought successfully to have Kensington High Street redesigned, deserve recognition. * CABE also launched the competition for its Prime Minister’s Award for Better Public Buildings. See www.betterpublicbuilding.org.uk.

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