Pilot scheme for design codes launched by Government

This week Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP announced the launch of a new National Design Code Model (NDCM) pilot scheme which will run for six months across 14 councils. Designed to place beauty at the heart of planning, the pilot scheme will give each Council £50,000 to develop new design codes as part of the Government’s drive to ‘Build Back Better’.

The purpose of the NDCM is to provide local authorities with a framework to create tailored design codes that reflect and protect the heritage and character of the local area. The new model also allows local communities’ views to be incorporated to ensure the design is locally led to plan buildings and homes residents’ find attractive.

Commenting on the launch of the pilot scheme Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP stated: “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.”

Out of the 71 initial applicants, 14 have been selected. These councils are Colchester, Tendring and Essex, Guildford, Herefordshire, Leeds City, Mid Devon, Newcastle City, Dacorum, Portsmouth City, Sefton, Southwark, Hyndburn, North West Leicestershire, Nuneaton and Bedworth, and Buckinghamshire.

To appropriately test the effectiveness of the design model, councils were picked to ensure a good geographical spread (at least one per English region), a range of development types (urban to rural) and market conditions (higher to lower growth areas).

It is the Government’s hope the results of the scheme will help build knowledge about how design codes can be successfully implemented on a local level. Looking ahead Anna Rose, Head of the Planning Advisory Scheme believes, “the findings will help inform potential further developments to the NMDC and the use of design coding in the planning system”.

But what does this mean for developers? The Housing Minister believes “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”. We can expect new design codes to add complexity and costs to new homes and to form a key point of the forthcoming Planning Bill which we expect to see in the House of Commons in the Autumn.

Author: Alice Marmara

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