Skip to main content

Frequently Asked Questions

A design code can be prepared at an area-wide, neighbourhood or site-specific scale. Comprising of a set of design principles to inform future development, design codes can give specific parameters for the development of an individual site or rules to be applied for developments across a wider area. Design codes should be based on effective community engagement and reflect local aspirations for the development of the area.

The Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill require all local planning authorities to prepare design guides or codes consistent with the principles set out in the National Design Guide and National Model Design Code, and which reflect local character and design preferences.

A design guide can be applied across a wide area where there is typically a variety of building types, forms and levels of growth. This includes at local authority level. A code is a simple, concise, illustrated design requirement. They can be applied at site level where a masterplan and vision is developed to inform construction. For larger projects that are phased over time, design codes are a useful means of ensuring a consistent style, function and appearance of the development.

Design codes are important because they provide a framework for creating healthy, safe, green, environmentally responsive, sustainable and distinctive places, with a consistent and high-quality standard of design. This can provide greater certainty for communities about the design of development and bring conversations about design to the start of the planning process, rather than the end.

The built environment has a significant impact on people’s health and wellbeing. It needs to feel safe and secure for all, including those who could be more vulnerable. Creating beautiful places requires a greener approach that supports progress towards our national environmental goals. This means more energy efficient buildings, well designed public spaces, enhancing nature, creating more resilient places and delivering progress towards meeting the net zero carbon target by 2050.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) advises that early discussion between applicants, the local planning authority and local community about the design and style of emerging schemes is important for clarifying expectations and reconciling local and commercial interests. Applicants should work closely with those affected by their proposals to evolve designs that take account of the views of the community. The NPPF also states that applications that can demonstrate early, proactive and effective engagement with the community should be looked on more favourably than those that cannot.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) encourages local authorities to use design codes to help deliver the high quality outcomes for new development. It is important however, that there is a balance between promoting and reinforcing local distinctiveness and allowing for innovation and originality. The geographic coverage, level of detail and degree of prescription should therefore be tailored to the circumstances and scale of change in each place, and should allow a suitable degree of variety.

The NPPF states development that is not well designed should be refused, especially where it fails to reflect local design codes, policies and guidance. Conversely, significant weight should be given to:

a) development which reflects local design codes, policies and guidance and government guidance on design and/or

b) outstanding or innovative designs which promote high levels of sustainability, or help raise the standard of design more generally in an area, so long as they fit in with the overall form and layout of their surroundings.

Whilst landowners and developers may also contribute, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is clear that design policies should be developed with local communities, so they reflect local aspirations. When preparing design codes and guides, communities need to be involved in the process in order to gain measurable community support for what is considered appropriate for the scale and location of new development. Design codes should be prepared in light of information about what is popular locally, on the basis of evidence. This will address the ambition in a new planning system to bring democracy forward so that communities decide what good design means locally.

The South Woodford Neighbourhood Forum (SWNF) area covers the majority of the South Woodford ward, with slight overlap of Churchfields and Wanstead Village.

Community consultation

Subscribe to receive Design Code updates: