National Design Guide

The National Design Guide has been published and states that councils that have not produced their own local design guides will be allowed to defer to the government's new National Design Guide and the impending National Model Design Code when considering whether development proposals meet design policy set out in the NPPF.

The guide forms part of the planning practice guince (PPG) and should be read alongside the updated section on design. The guide states that it will be backed up next year by a new National Model Design Code, setting out detailed standards for key elements of successful design. The document adds that local planning authorities will be expected to develop their own design codes or guides and stresses that paragraph 130 of the NPPF states clearly that permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions, taking into account any local design standards or style guides.

The design guide states that the National Model Design Code will be subject to consultation in "early 2020" and this will also consider the findings of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission which is due to publish its final report in December 2019.

The design guide sets out ten characteristics of well-designed places. These are:

  •     Context – the guide says that good design "enhances the surroundings";
  •     Identity – good design is "attractive and distinctive";
  •     Built form – good design delivers "a coherent pattern of development";
  •     Movement – well-designed places should be "accessible and easy to move around";
  •     Nature – good design should see nature "enhanced and optimised";
  •     Public spaces – such places should be "safe, social and inclusive";
  •     Uses – developments should be "mixed and integrated";
  •     Homes and buildings – housing should be "functional, healthy and sustainable";
  •     Resources – well-designed places and buildings are "efficient and resilient", and "conserve natural resources including land, water, energy and materials";
  •     Lifespan – developments should be "made to last".


Regarding built form the guide states that well-designed places have compact forms of development that are walkable, contributing positively to well-being and placemaking. On nature, the document says that well-designed places prioritise nature so that diverse ecosystems can flourish to ensure a healthy natural environment that supports and enhances biodiversity. The uses section says that well-designed neighbourhoods need to include an integrated mix of tenures and housing types that reflect local housing need and market demand. It says that such schemes are designed to be inclusive and to meet the changing needs of people of different ages and abilities,"adding that development reinforces existing places by enhancing local transport, facilities and community services, and maximising their potential use.

Author: MHCLG

Date: September 2019 Date of document

This item updates DCP section 4.132


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