The Ministry for Housing has announced further plans to accelerate housing development. This follows the publication of its Planning for the Future white paper last summer where its consultation in the autumn on the proposals resulted in 44,000 responses.

The recent announcements include wanting council local plans to create “beautiful” places. Area-based character assessments and design codes could be introduced as helpful tools to ensure that land is used efficiently while also creating beautiful and sustainable places.

Local authorities would be required to draw up local design codes involving community engagement. The councils would use a checklist of design principles to consider for new developments, including street character, building type, façade, and the requirements that address wellbeing and environmental impact. This would allow residents to have a say in the design (their own “unique” local design codes) of new developments in their area.

The Ministry is setting up a team that will pilot the National Model Design Code with 20 communities. Expressions of interest are open for the first ten councils to sign up and receive a share of an initial £500,000. This an opportunity for Windsor & Maidenhead and Bracknell Forest.

The Royal Borough could have a head start with its Townscape Assessment introduced in 2010, which zones areas in the borough by character types such as Victorian Villages, Post-War Suburbs, Leafy Residential Suburbs and Villas in a Woodland Setting. The Ascot, Sunninghill and Sunningdale Neighbourhood Plan requires new developments to comply with these character types.

A consultation is taking place to seek views on the draft National Model Design Code, which provides detailed guidance on the production of design codes, guides and policies to promote successful design. 

SPAE plans to make a response to this consultation.

References:

National Model Design Code (publishing.service.gov.uk), which outlines the design standards that new developments will be expected to meet.

National Planning Policy Framework and National Model Design Code: consultation proposals – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk), consultation closing date 27th March 2021.