BIMBY: a new toolkit to help communities negotiate the planning process

Earlier this year the National Trust contributed to a ResPublica report which set out how a “right to beauty” can restore and democratise the idea of beauty in public policy.  Now the Trust is supporting the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community on the creation of an online toolkit to assist communities in having their say on new housing in their area.


By 2021, it is expected that the UK will have a shortage of around 1.1 million homes. There is an obvious need for new housing – for well-designed, quality development that includes green spaces for communities and respects local heritage. So how can the beauty and diversity of our countryside and heritage be respected whilst meeting housing targets? The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, with the support of the National Trust, think people power is part of the solution.

A newly developed BIMBY (Beauty-In-My-Back-Yard) housing toolkit is the very first of its kind: an online tool that supports people on the ground to get involved with the planning process in an effective and positive way. Community groups can use BIMBY to tell developers and planners what they think beauty in their back yard looks like when it comes to new housing in their area.

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Celebrate the unique beauty of your area condenses decades of the Foundation’s experience of working with people on the ground to design and build harmonious and enduring communities. The toolkit takes groups through three workshops where they work out where they would like to see new development, decide what they think typical characteristics of their area are, and pull together good existing examples. At the end of the process groups have a copy of the BIMBY Housing Manual unique to their area. This can be used to inform discussions with planners and developers to ensure the community’s voice is heard and fully understood in creating the right kind of development in their area.

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“The National Trust understands the importance of beautifully designed buildings that enhance their surroundings. This approach epitomises the principles by which we protect the nation’s cultural treasures. We want to help ensure that new building that takes place can also draw on these principles so that communities will love them as much as they love the houses and areas we protect.

The National Trust endorses The Prince’s Foundation for Building Communities’ Beauty in My Back Yard toolkit. It’s what communities have been crying out for, a way to positively influence the planning process. From our point of view it should help ensure we create new buildings for future generations to cherish.”

Simon Murray, Senior Director, National Trust

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“The BIMBY Housing Toolkit and Manual will, we hope, provide a pivotal way for communities to feel empowered to take part in the planning process and to stand up for Beauty in their Back Yard. The potential is huge for BIMBY to pave the way for a co-operative, positive planning future where we see more housing developments that people want to live in. “

Ben Bolgar, Senior Director, Prince’s Foundation for Building Community

And we need you

Now that this groundbreaking initiative has been launched, the Foundation is inviting people to become BIMBY Pioneers. Community groups, neighbourhood forums, parish councils – anyone with an interest in helping to ensure their area develops beautifully – can all get started with BIMBY.

BIMBY is all about community involvement and getting people’s voices heard. So we’ve incorporated this into how we develop BIMBY. Between now and February next year we want community groups to become BIMBY Pioneers. Push the boundaries of the website, try out the toolkit and crucially, let us know your thoughts. Then we can make it as easy to use and effective as possible.

For more information and to get involved visit

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