Current housebuilding is “ugly rubbish”, says planning minister

Nick Boles

People have to accept that the amount of land being built on needs to increase by a third, according to planning minister Nick Boles.

He also criticised “lazy” builders filling the country with “pig-ugly” houses, arguing that housing could be “beautiful” and – on occasion – more beautiful than nature.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight last night, Boles said:

“People have got to accept that we’ve got to build more on some open land. We’re going to protect the greenbelt but if people want to have housing for their kids they have to accept we need to build more on some open land.

“In the UK and England at the moment we’ve got about 9% of land developed. All we need to do is build on another 2-3% of land and we’ll have solved a housing problem.

“The built environment can be more beautiful than nature and we shouldn’t obsess about the fact that the only landscapes that are beautiful are open – sometimes buildings are better.”

He floated the idea of newspapers running an “X-Factor” style competition to judge the “best and worst” buildings.

Boles also argued that it was a “basic moral right” to have a house with a garden.

“If you’re on a decent wage and you’re working hard I think there’s a moral right to have a little house, with a nice bit of garden in order to bring their kids up.”

“Some people prefer to live in the city but all research suggests that most British people said that in an ideal world I’d have a cottage, but we don’t live in an ideal world. My view is that the world could be more ideal than we’ve allowed it to become because we haven’t build enough houses and we’ve allowed land prices to become so stratospheric, we can’t afford to give people any space.”

Boles was made planning minister by David Cameron after the September re-shuffle and is a major supporter of liberalising planning regulations. In a speech before his ministerial appointment, Boles labelled opponents of government planning reforms as “scaremongering Luddites”.