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WHAT VALUE DOES A DESIGN
STATEMENT HAVE WHEN SUBMITTING A PLANNING APPLICATION
In theory every Planning Application should be supported with a design
statement. This is simply a written document that explains certain aspects
of the design and why it is required including the clients needs.
The advice of Planning Policy Guidance: General
Policy and Principles (PPG1) is that all applicants should be able to demonstrate
how they have taken account of the need for good design in their development
However, most small scale developments do not require
a separate design statement to support a Planning Application as most issues
and principals can be demonstrated on the actual drawings. Regretfully, Local
Planning Authorities are under increasing pressure from Central Government
to have this written support statement with applications and complicated
or contentious schemes usually require a design statement in any case.
How will a Design Statement help?
It will help the Council, Councillors, neighbours,
the public to: understand fully your proposals and the principles of the
design; consider the proposals against design policies in the Local Plan;
consider the proposal against design objectives in Planning Policy Guidance
Note 1 from which the Design Statement requirement comes. There are three
essential steps to producing a Design Statement and these are:
Step 1 - site analysis and evaluation.
This is a factual account, which should be essentially
based upon drawings and sketches explaining the site within its context,
e.g. urban, residential, conservation area, sloping, industrial, vegetation
etc. It is important that this analysis has its basis in fact and reason
rather than opinion and should include: building styles and sizes, street
patterns the nature of spaces between buildings and their uses, the character
of the area, proximity to Listed Buildings etc.
An explanation of the constraints and opportunities
the site has in terms of its design, e.g. important views, features worthy
of retention or protection, features which are detrimental and need to be
addressed, and an explanation of the constraints and opportunities the site
has in terms of its context, e.g. local building, changes of levels, physical
features such as underground services, drainage systems, overhead powerlines,
service trenches, trees, ecology and wildlife habitats etc.
Step 2 - Identifying the design principles
These should be the main criteria that the design
needs to fulfil. These principles should be so important that they are not
easily changed. They should not be a list of preferences but a clear list
of what needs to be included in the design and should remain consistent
irrespective of any approach taken.
These principles may also include critical constraints
to the applicant such as minimum floor space to be achieved, the importance
of signs to a commercial proposal, financial constraints, etc. It should
also include principles that are a requirement of the Council as may be set
down in Local Plans and Development Briefs or other Guidance Notes. It is
important to understand that each site and proposal is unique and there is
no right or wrong set of design principles.
The design principles should clearly relate to
the site analysis and evaluation findings. The design principles will vary
in number and complexity from proposal to proposal. For extensions or alterations
to dwellings it is likely that there may be only one or two principles, e.g.
the extension should be designed to be sympathetically related to the existing
property and not to cause harm to the neighbour.
In more complex proposals, design principles may
include the retention of important public views, mass and scale of buildings
should be similar to those in the street or conversely a new building ought
to be larger because of the relationship of the site to neighbouring buildings.
Important trees may need to be kept or the buildings may need to face a
particular way or be in specific positions to meet the needs of industrial
Step 3 - Creating the design solution
The third stage is to produce the design solution.
The important factor is that the design solution should incorporate the design
principles, which in turn can be justified against the site analysis and
So what will a Design Statement look like?
There are no set rules or ways of presenting a
Design Statement. Much depends upon the scale and nature of the development
It should first comprise a detailed site analysis
based upon drawings and sketches setting out the constraints, opportunities
and design principles. Written statements alone may not be enough and photographs
of the site and its surroundings can be helpful. The Statement should relate
to the wider context of the site and not just to the site itself.
Our 'Maximum Build
Planning Guide' explains further the design and planning
issues on residential development and how to extend develope a property.
To purchase our Maximum Build Planning
Guide simply click on one of the links below....
"You already have every characteristic necessary for success if you
recognise, claim, develop and use them"
About the Author
MSM is a Practicing Planning Agent and building design team offering
Architectural Services to their clients specialising in residential
development. The views and opinions expressed here are personal
ones based on relevant life experiences. These views and opinions are
not intended to be actioned or copied by others.
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