A draft design code has been published that ministers claim will help ensure new developments are “beautiful” and “well designed”.
Manchester-based consultancy Urbed was appointed last August to work with the the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and other departments to draw up the Government’s National Model Design Code, which was issued for consultation on Friday.
It builds on a body of work government has produced on good urban design principles, including the National Design Guide.
The guidance is directed at local authorities and provides them with a baseline standard of quality and practice to take into account when considering development proposals alongside the upcoming planning reforms.
Factors to consider, according to the code, include:
- the layout of new development, including the street pattern
- how landscaping should be approached, including the importance of streets being tree lined
- whether façades of buildings are of sufficiently high quality
- The environmental performance of place and buildings, to ensure they contribute to net-zero carbon targets
- That developments should clearly take account of local vernacular and heritage in their architecture and materials
“Design codes can… give developers greater certainty about what may be acceptable when seeking planning permission and can help lead to faster decisions based on whether a proposal complies with a code, which can help to speed up delivery of development,” the document states.
Urbed was founded more than 40 years ago and is based in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The multidisciplinary practice works on urban design, planning, architecture, landscape architecture, and sustainability.
The firm was appointed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to work on the second draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
Vicky Payne, senior consultant, planning and urban design, at Urbed, told Place North West: “Urbed is very excited to have worked with MHCLG to produce national guidance to increase design quality in the UK.
“It’s been a challenging but fascinating project trying to distil the complexity of good design into a methodology that can be applied in all sorts of contexts and locations.”
She added: “The aim was to guide the production of codes that provide strong enough rules to ensure quality and certainty, without stifling flexibility or creativity.
“It’s about getting the fundamentals right – making sure the principles of good design are in place to ensure quality across a range of uses, styles, locations and contexts.”
The design code will be part of the shift towards presumed planning consent in principle if certain design standards are met in areas zoned for renewal – a change detailed in the proposed planning reforms outlined in a white paper last August.
The Government is also consulting on proposed revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework that are to contain some of the proposals in last year’s white paper.
The two consultations are running in tandem and both close on 27 March.