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Beauty To Be Prioritised In Planning

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a draft National Model Design Code (the Design Code) on 30 January this year for consultation.  (The consultation closed on 27 March 2021.) In tandem with the publication the Government invited expressions of interest from local planning authorities to test the Design Code.  

14 local authorities have now been selected to participate: Colchester Borough Council, Tendring District Council and Essex County Council; Guildford Borough Council; Herefordshire Council; Leeds City Council; Mid Devon Council; Newcastle City Council; Dacorum Borough Council; Portsmouth City Council; Sefton Council; Southwark Council; Hyndburn Borough Council; North West Leicestershire District Council; Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council; and Buckinghamshire Council.  Each will receive a £50,000 grant to carry out the project.

Evident from the name, the Design Code applies across the country.  This seems slightly at odds with the long-standing government localist agenda.  However, the idea is that the Design Code (which, in any event, is not policy but rather a recommendation) assists with the production of robust local design codes.  The local authorities apply the guidance in the Design Code in producing codes for their areas, applying seven steps:

Analysis – scoping and baseline

Vision – design vision, coding plan and masterplanning

Code – area type guidance and design code wide guidance.

Emphasis on good design can only be a good thing.  Encouraging upfront thought on development details will hopefully result in the creation of better places. It will be interesting to see how the different local planning authorities in their different geographical locations with their different types of development to progress fare employing the Design Code.  Certainly, real life testing of the Design Code is the best way to assess its utility.  Whether a national standard can truly create a shift whereby local authorities in volume produce local design codes is more likely to depend on funding.  

Posted on 10 June, 2021 by Ortolan

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