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Levelling up: £3m funding to support 25 areas produce local design codes

Communities across the country will lead the way in shaping the design of their neighbourhoods under a new design programme, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced.

As part of the government’s plans to level up communities across the country, 25 areas in England have been awarded a share of £3m to help them set their own standards for design locally.

The government said the Design Code Pathfinder Programme will empower communities to have their say on the development of new homes, buildings and amenities, such as shops and workspace, in their area and help restore people’s pride in the places they live.

The codes are a collection of design principles to help local areas deliver more beautiful and sustainable places and communities, such as specifying local building materials or deciding the layout of streets.

Commenting, Housing Minister, Stuart Andrew said:

“We want to give local people power over what their neighbourhoods look like and make sure all new developments enhance their surroundings and preserve local character and identity.

“Whether that’s choosing red brick for new buildings in our industrial heartland cities or choosing to set sustainability standards for new build homes, our Pathfinder Programme will help turn visions of greener, more beautiful homes and places into standards which developers adhere to.”

The design codes will be used as examples that communities across the country can draw on to produce their own, with support from the Office for Place.

Many of the projects will focus on regeneration and will deliver thriving town centres and green infrastructure, such as new walking and cycle routes, the government said.

Examples include:

  • Bradford Council will be pioneering an authority-wide design code to regenerate the urban areas in the district in order to support some of the most deprived wards in the UK.
     
  • In Medway, the council will use the Pathfinder Programme to produce a design code for the regeneration of the area’s emerging ‘city centre’, Chatham, with new development to reflect on local character while protecting the natural environment.
     
  • In Mansfield, the district council will develop a design code for the town with a focus on the regeneration of Mansfield town centre, with a specific focus on delivering homes and new opportunities for economic growth.

Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Victoria Hills added:

“Today’s announcement of 25 councils and neighbourhood planning groups for the Design Code Pathfinder Programme is encouraging.

“Together with last year’s government announcement of the 14 council design code pilot schemes, there is a valuable body of evidence being built for the delivery of best in class design codes.

“The RTPI is particularly keen to see how the Pathfinder schemes can adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to delivery by including planners, local councillors, designers, ecologists, transport planners, civil engineers and energy professions in their preparation.

“I’m looking forward to using my role on the Transition Board for DLUHC’s Office for Place to support these chosen communities to build green, thriving and healthy places.”

The government said that local councils and neighbourhood planning groups throughout England will benefit from the work of Pathfinders through the sharing of lessons learnt and good practice.

The National Model Design Code (NMDC), published last year, will also help guide selected local councils and neighbourhood planning groups on important design features.

This includes street character, building type and layout, use of public space and encouraging councils to consider the sustainability of new development.

Last year, the Office for Place supported 14 local councils and communities to set standards for design in their area using the National Model Design Code.

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