Planning Portal

PPS 1: General Principles
The Department's Approach to Planning: Design Considerations

15. New buildings and their curtilages have a significant effect on the character and quality of an area. They define public spaces, streets and vistas and inevitably create the context for future development. These effects will often be to the benefit of an area but they can be detrimental. They are matters of proper public interest. The appearance of proposed development and its relationship to its surroundings are therefore material considerations in determining planning applications and appeals. Such considerations relate to the design of buildings and to urban design. These are distinct, albeit closely interrelated subjects. Both are important. Both require an understanding of the context in which development takes place whether in urban or rural areas.
16. For the purposes of this Statement, urban design is be taken to mean the relationship between different buildings; the relationship between buildings and the streets, squares, parks, waterways and other spaces which make up the public domain; the nature and quality of the public domain itself; the relationship of one part of a village, town or city with other parts; and the patterns of movement and activity that are thereby established: in short, the complex relationships between all the elements of built and unbuilt space. As the appearance and treatment of the spaces between and around buildings is often of comparable importance to the design of the buildings themselves, landscape design will be considered as an integral part of urban design.
17. Good design should be the aim of all those involved in the development process and will be encouraged everywhere. Good design can help promote sustainable development; improve the quality of the existing environment; attract business and investment; and reinforce civic pride and a sense of place. It can help to secure continued public acceptance of necessary new development.
18. Applicants for planning permission will have to be able to demonstrate how they have taken account of the need for good design in their development proposals and that they have had regard to relevant development plan policies and supplementary design guidance. This should be done in a manner appropriate to the nature and the scale of the proposals.
19. The Department will reject poor designs, particularly where there are clear planning policies or supplementary design guidance to support such decisions. Poor designs may include those inappropriate to their context, for example those clearly out of scale or incompatible with their surroundings.
20. The Department will not attempt to impose a particular architectural taste or style arbitrarily. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness particularly where this is supported by clear development plan policies or supplementary design guidance. The details of particular schemes will not normally be assessed except where such matters have a significant effect on the character or quality of the area, including neighbouring buildings. Particular weight will be given to the impact of development on existing buildings and on the character of areas recognised for their landscape or townscape value, such as areas of outstanding natural beauty and conservation areas.
21. Where the design of proposed development is consistent with relevant design policies and supplementary design guidance, planning permission will not be refused on design grounds unless there are exceptional circumstances. Design policies and guidance will focus on encouraging good design and avoid stifling responsible innovation, originality or initiative. Such policies and guidance will recognise that the qualities of an outstanding scheme may exceptionally justify departing from them.
22. Further guidance on the expression of design policies in development plans and supplementary design guidance, and on the information relating to design to be submitted with planning applications, is contained in Annex 3.
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