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The Folly of the U.K.’s New Architectural Style Wars

The U.K.’s new housing czar Sir Roger Scruton thinks traditional architecture can foil NIMBYs. But architecture didn’t cause Britain’s housing crisis.  
St. Bride's Church is reflected in an office window in the City of London.
St. Bride's Church is reflected in an office window in the City of London.Toby Melville/Reuters

Earlier this month, the U.K.’s Conservative government launched a new commission on architecture called “Building Better, Building Beautiful.” Announced by Secretary for Housing and Communities James Brokenshire (yes, his real name), the group is meant to draft guidelines to “tackle the challenge of poor quality design and [construction]” in real-estate projects so that they earn “popular consent.” The idea is that if the outward look of new development is more to people’s liking, they will be less inclined to turn NIMBY and oppose it.

The birth of yet another “quango,” as such paper-pushing bodies are known in the U.K., might have gone unnoticed as the deadline for Brexit approaches. But one thing has provoked controversy: the appointment of conservative philosopher and author Sir Roger Scruton as the unpaid head of the commission.