ATLAS Guide
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T2.8: Securing Design Quality through Development Control

Clearly, the overall hierarchy of design policy and guidance will establish a framework of design requirements and expectations, which should inform the evolution of site specific scheme proposals and spatial master plans. As proposals enter the formal development control process, there are further ‘levels’ of control available that can be used to secure high quality design.

T1.8 Securing Design Quality Through Development Control

In relation to the evolution of design and development proposals for specific sites and taking these forward through the development control process it is likely that the first stage will be via the outline planning application route. Specified information relating to design and development must now be submitted as part of an outline application (explained in more detail in the Process Zone Stage 7: Finalization). In relation to achieving quality in urban design, two key components will be central to establishing an initial form of design control:

  • Design principles and parameters of development. ATLAS recommends that certain key structural components, such as land use, access and movement, areas of built development and open space, together with other structuring components, such as density ranges character areas and urban design strategy, should be articulated in plan form and become part of the formal application material, which defines certain development parameters and limitations. These should be accompanied by a clear and concise written statement of design principles, which again from part of the application and relate to design issues at the outline stage, together with subsequent stages of design work including the reserved matters submissions. These should then be formally secured for future reference and application through the use of planning condition(s) at the time of the determination of the planning approval;
  • Design and access statement. Statements (DAS) covering design concepts and principles must now be submitted with all applications for planning permission for large scale development projects. These should play a key communication role, illustrating the design process that has led to a final proposal and demonstrating how the proposed principles (urban design objectives) and parameters (limits to development extents) relate to that process. DAS’s relating to outline planning applications for large scale development projects must contain a sufficient depth of information and illustrative material to convincingly demonstrate that the proposed development would be a high quality design. The purpose of the DAS should be to establish benchmarks for quality, but they should not fix detailed solutions. They will need to contain good quality illustrations and examples of how design quality principles can be carried through to the detailed design stages and implementation. With large scale development projects the preparation of the DAS should be an iterative process involving the preparation of early drafts for discussion and comment. Guidance on the information formally required as part of a DAS has been set out in the "Guidance on information requirement and validation" document issued by CLG. The continuation of this guidance relates to the ongoing Taylor Review process, and importantly it's fit to changes the statutory requirements pertaining to design and access statements inlight of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) (Amendment) Order 2013 [Statutory Instrument No. 1238].

Together, these two elements will provide the first potential level of design control through the development control system, establishing a formal context to control future detailed development and ensure that certain concepts and principles are adhered to in future reserved matters/detailed applications.

Where a greater degree of control is considered necessary, such as through design coding (see next section), conditions and/or planning obligations should be incorporated into the outline planning, which specifies when further design work is to occur, what it should be and how it is to be produced and implemented

Last Updated on Thursday 13/06/2013 - 01:07PM

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Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS), 2014