Cotswold houses

Council funding to develop new local design guide for housing

A new national design code ensuring areas are beautiful, well-designed and locally-led is being tested across 14 areas in England, the government has announced.

The National Model Design Code (NMDC) will ensure future developments are beautiful and fit in with local character.

It gives local planning authorities a toolkit of design principles to consider for new developments, such as street character, building type and façade, as well as environmental, heritage and wellbeing factors

The shortlisted councils will take part in a six month testing programme to apply the NMDC in their area.

The government said this will help Britain ‘build back better’ by making sure current and new residents will benefit from beautiful homes in well-designed neighbourhoods.

It is intended to provide councils with the guidance and parameters to shape new developments in a way which reflects what their communities truly want.

The measures mean the word ‘beauty’ will be prioritised in planning rules for the first time since the system was created in 1947, going back to a previous time when there was a greater emphasis on whether a building was considered attractive to local people.

Recently, the government consulted on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to take this forward, alongside the draft NMDC.

Following a consultation period, 71 expression of interest submissions were received to test the NMDC, with representation from every region of England.

The final 14 applicants were then shortlisted to ensure a geographical spread and a range of development types.

Included is an urban conservation area with industrial heritage, town centres, new neighbourhoods, rural settlements and urban regeneration sites.

Each pilot will receive a £50,000 grant to carry out the project.

Commenting, Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher MP said: “We should aspire to enhance the beauty of our local areas and pass our cultural heritage onto our successors, enriched not diminished.


“In order to do that, we need to bring about a profound and lasting change in the buildings that we build, which is one of the reasons we are placing a greater emphasis on locally popular design, quality and access to nature, through our national planning policies and introducing the National Model Design Code.

“These will enable local people to set the rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our local character and identity.

“Instead of developers forcing plans on locals, they will need to adapt to proposals from local people, ensuring that current and new residents alike will benefit from beautiful homes in well-designed neighbourhoods.”

Head of the Planning Advisory Service, Anna Rose added: “It is really exciting to see the National Model Design Code being tested by local councils across the country.

“The outcomes from this first set of pilots will help to build the capacity and collective learning that we need across the sector.

“I am looking forward to seeing what councils can achieve with their communities by using this new code.

“The testing programme is a step towards this aim and the findings will help inform potential further developments to the NMDC and the use of design coding in the planning system.”

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