Design and access statements

All planning applications must be accompanied by a Design and Access Statement, except the following:

  • engineering and mining operations
  • development of an existing house or development within the curtilage for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling-house (except for dwelling-houses in a conservation area)
  • a material change of use of land or buildings, unless it also involves operational development
  • in addition, all applications for listed building consent must be accompanied by a Design and Access Statement.

The purpose of the statement is to explain and justify the design and access principles and concepts on which a development proposal is based, and how these will be reflected in individual aspects of the scheme.

Content of statement

Statements will vary according to the scale and complexity of the application and should reflect the type of development and the complexity of the issues that arise from it. The statement should include a written statement, maps, photos and details of consultations with other stakeholders.

The Design component of the statement must cover seven elements:

  1. response to context: how the physical, social, economic and policy context of the development has influenced its design in relation to the other six elements
  2. amount: how much would be built on the site
  3. use: for what buildings and spaces will be used
  4. layout: the buildings and space within the site, and the relationship to the surrounding environment
  5. scale: height, width and length of each proposed building and space between buildings
  6. appearance: what the finished building and space will look like
  7. landscaping: how open space will be treated to enhance and protect the character of the area.

The Access component of the statement must cover the following elements:

  1. what approach has been taken towards access, especially for disabled, and how have relevant policies in local development documents been taken into account?
  2. how will all users of the site have equal and convenient access to buildings and spaces and the public transport system?
  3. what information was gleaned from any consultations conducted?
  4. how any issues that affect the access to the site (roads, footpaths and sightlines), the movement around the site and how disabled people are not segregated, and access for emergency vehicles.

An application submitted without a Design and Access Statement will be treated as invalid.

Please do not include details of a personal nature: Design and Access Statements form part of the statutory planning register and are available for public inspection.

Useful Guidance

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has produced Circular 01/2006. This provides guidance on the recent changes to the Development Control System, a background on Design and Access Statements as well as information on when a Design and Access Statement is required.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has also published a useful guide entitled ‘Design and access statements: how to write, read and use them’ (June 2006). 

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