According to details on the contract published on the government’s contracts website, MHCLG "wishes to procure a specialist to help develop a visual design manual to support the revised Design PPG, including illustrations for design principles and projects".
It says that MHCLG "is developing a revised suite of PPG to provide further detail" to support the objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
"The objective is to develop an easy to use toolkit that local planning authorities, developers, built environment professionals and other agencies involved in the design of the built environment can use to ensure quality is embedded in policies, programmes and projects", it says.
A separate document says the contract will be directed by the MHCLG’s in-house design team, "which is responsible for design quality in MHCLG policies and programmes, and for developing design guidance in PPG".
The document says: "The design team is working across MHCLG and other government departments to ensure greater emphasis is placed on design quality in policies and programmes as part of a funded action plan, to implement the housing white paper aspirations for higher quality in the built environment.
"The design team wish to appoint either a third-sector design consultancy or a built environment design consultancy that is able to provide design expertise including urban design, architectural and landscape skills to support the preparation of the text, source supporting images and illustrations and prepare a downloadable document to be hosted on the GOV.UK website."
The tendering process for the contract is open until 5 April.
The revised NPPF, published in July last year, introduced a heightened emphasis on design standards in new developments. Paragraph 124 of the document states: "The creation of high-quality buildings and places is fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve."
Last week, the housing minister Kit Malthouse suggested that the government could be willing to offer council's flexibility in meeting the requirements of the housing delivery test to ensure that new homes adhere to high design standards.
In February, Malthouse said developers need to acknowledge the need for good design and factor it into their financial appraisals for new schemes.
A feature examining the impact of the NPPF's design policies on the ground can be found here.