Planning practice guidance updated - Design: process and tools

The "Design: process and tools" section of the Planning practice guidance has been updated with the guidance stressing that that it is important that design quality is not diminished as a permission is implemented.

The revised section on Design aims to tackle quality erosion and allows councils to consider strategies to ensure the quality of approved development is not diminished between permission and completion. The new version of the guidance says that it is important that design quality is not diminished as a permission is implemented.

The guidance states that councils can consider a strategy to maintain the original design intent and quality of significant schemes, such as by encouraging the retention of key design consultants from the planning application team and using design review at appropriate intervals. The guidance also introduces wording making it clear that design conditions can be imposed at the outline planning stage, allowing for the details to be submitted for later determination as part of a reserved matters application.

In addition, it can also be important to ensure that applications to discharge conditions or amend approved schemes do not undermine development quality. The guidance also states when, and for what purpose, the government thinks design review should be used for. It states that effective design review is proportionate and can be used for both large and small-scale development, so long as the projects are significant enough to warrant the investment needed for a review. An effective design review should follow clear appraisal criteria and be made up of representative and diverse members with professional expertise. In addition, an effective review considers the wider site-specific and policy context, such as relevant socio-economic issues, as well as the physical characteristics of the site and its setting.

A new section of the guidance also outlines how councils can effectively engage communities in the design of their area. It states that councils and applicants are encouraged to proactively engage an inclusive, diverse and representative sample of the community, so that their views can be taken in to account in relation to design. It states that it is also important to consider maximising the opportunity for local communities to participate, such as working with established organisations or groups within the community and holding events at a time and location that are accessible.

Design workshops can also help councils understand the views of local communities on design policies in local plans, and both local authorities and applicants in relation to masterplans and design elements of specific development sites, the guidance adds.

Author: MHCLG

Date: 1/10/2019 Date of update

This item updates DCP section 4.132


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