Government launches new National Design Guide completed by Tibbalds and Design Council

October 8, 2019

A new visual design guide for the UK planning system completed by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design and Design Council, working closely with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), has been launched.

The National Design Guide: Planning practice guidance for beautiful, enduring and successful places forms part of the revised suite of planning practice guidance (PPG) that is currently being issued by the MHCLG to support the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

It addresses the question of how we recognise well-designed places, by outlining and illustrating the government’s priorities for them in the form of ten characteristics. These relate to: Context, Identity, Built form, Movement, Nature, Public spaces, Uses, Homes & buildings, Resources and Lifespan. The guide also illustrates how well-designed places can be achieved in practice using a range of good practice examples.

Its focus is on good design in the planning system, so it is primarily for local authority planning officers, councillors, applicants, their design teams, people in local communities and their representatives. It has been designed as an easy-to-use tool that can help these groups ensure quality is embedded in policies, guidance and projects with clear explanations, definitions, good practice examples and illustrations.

Jane Dann, Director of Tibbalds, said: “Design quality is so important but can also be very difficult to articulate. This guide is designed to provide a common framework for identifying, assessing and discussing design quality. It clearly sets out what the government expects to see in new developments and how to achieve the standards that will create successful buildings and places in the long term. At the same time, it shows how these standards have already been achieved across the country, using good practice examples.

“It gives those bringing forward new proposals more certainty about what is expected and acceptable to help make the planning and delivery process smoother. It also provides a starting point for local authorities and communities to prepare their own tailored design guides that focus on what makes their local area special and distinctive.”

Sue Morgan, Director of Architecture and the Built Environment at Design Council said: “Design Council has long argued that design quality must be prioritised by built environment professionals: it should run throughout the entire development and planning process. This important National Design Guide brings us all closer to ensuring that this happens. It’s yet another example of our commitment to raise the standard of the places in which we work, live, learn and play, so we can all enjoy healthier, safer and happier lives.” 

The guide was completed by Tibbalds and Design Council, working closely with the MHCLG in a collaborative approach, combining a multidisciplinary approach to urban design, architecture and planning, with expertise and resources in good practice guidance and engagement.

It draws upon Tibbalds’ and Design Council’s extensive experience of preparing robust design guidance and the practical lessons gained from leading on Borough-wide design guides, neighbourhood plans and design coding, as well as using design guidance when preparing planning applications and appeals.