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The National Design Guide – What Does This Mean for the Public Sector?

on Tuesday, 03 December 2019.

New guidance has been introduced, providing a national standard for local authorities to achieving well-designed buildings across England.

Described by former CABE chair Paul Finch as the "nearest thing to a National Architecture Policy we are going to get," the Government has published new guidance for achieving high quality, well-designed buildings and places across England.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said the new guidance will introduce a national standard for English local authorities with the option to allow them to design their own guides reflecting local needs.

What Does the Guidance Do?

It provides a set of 10 characteristics and examples of well-designed places to assist in considering applications to deliver beautiful, enduring and successful places. The guidance provides helpful definitions, good practice examples and future points to consider.

The 10 Characteristics

  • Context – enhancing the immediate, local and regional surroundings
  • Identity – attractiveness and distinctiveness
  • Built Form – a three-dimensional coherent pattern of development
  • Movement – accessibility incorporating a well-designed movement network
  • Nature – natural and designed landscapes and high quality open spaces
  • Public Spaces – safe, social and inclusive
  • Uses – a mix of uses that support activities to live, work and play
  • Homes and Buildings – functional, healthy and sustainable environments
  • Resources – efficient considering the wider environmental impact
  • Lifespan – made to last

Where Can I Locate the Guidance?

A copy of The National Design Guide can be found here.

Future Developments

Subject to consultation and the findings of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission final report, a National Model Design Code setting out detailed standards for key elements of effective design is due to be published next year.

What Does This Mean for the Public Sector?

It is hoped that the publication of this guidance will assist local authorities in determining planning applications, providing further certainty and clarity of the planning process.

Whilst it should assist planning officers to resist poorly designed proposals, it remains to be seen if this latest effort to facilitate the efficacy and certainty of the planning process will help or hinder already stretched local planning authorities when poorly designed schemes are still able to glide through the applicant-friendly validation process.


To find out how the National Design Guide will impact you, please contact David Bird in our Planning Law team on 0117 314 5382, or complete the form below.

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