Consultancy appointed to write government's National Model Design Code

A built environment consultancy has won a government contract to produce a set of national design principles that will inform local plans and development management decisions.

Image: Geograph / David Martin
Image: Geograph / David Martin

Urban design and masterplanning firm URBED has been appointed to draw up the National Model Design Code, which the government has said is due to be published in the autumn.

According to the recently published planning white paper, local authorities will be expected to use the guide to prepare local design codes setting out acceptable forms of development.

Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework will “make clear that schemes which comply with local design guides and codes have a positive advantage and greater certainty about their prospects of swift approval”, the white paper states.

Where local plans identify areas for “significant development”, the white paper adds that permission in principle should be granted for proposals drawn up in accordance with masterplans and site-specific codes.

In cases where local design guides and codes have not been produced, the white paper states that “the National Design Guide, National Model Design Code and Manual for Streets should guide decisions on the form of development”.

According to the white paper, the National Model Design Code will include guidance on the design of streets, public spaces, parking, trees and cycling and walking routes.

URBED and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) confirmed the appointment but declined to comment further.

URBED's director David Rudlin is a town planner by training and chair of the Academy of Urbanism and was founded by Dr Nicholas Falk, also a planner and now executive director of the URBED Trust. In 2014, it won the Wolfson economics prize for its new town proposal.

MHCLG tendered for the contract in March this year, estimating the value of the project at between £55,000 and £85,000. “The National Model Design Code will be a template for local planning authorities and developers to use to create local design codes for site specific and area wide application,” it said.

“The objective for the National Model Design Code is to ensure that a greater consistency of design quality is delivered, through preparation, application and enforcement of local design code criteria applied by the private sector on new development, and by planning authorities.

“This will help to ensure that principles for the design of places and buildings are more specific, drawing on established principles of good urban design and local character.”

The tender advised that the work would include amendments to the National Design Guide to reflect requirements set out in the National Model Design Code.

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