Design and access statements
What is a Design and Access Statement?
‘A Design and Access Statement is a concise report accompanying certain applications for planning permission and applications for listed building consent. They provide a framework for applications to explain how the proposed development is a suitable response to the site and its setting and demonstrate that it can be adequately accessed by prospective users.’ (Paragraph 34 of the Planning Practice Guidance).
Which applications must be accompanied by a Design and Access Statement?
- Applications for major development, as defined in article 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure (England) Order 2015;
- Applications for development in a designated area (a World Heritage Site or a conservation area), where the proposed development consists of:
- one or more dwellings; or
- a building or buildings with a floor space of 100 square metres or more.
- Applications for listed building consent.
Applications for waste development, a material change of use, engineering or mining operations, or applications to amend the conditions attached to a planning permission do not need to be accompanied by a Design and Access Statement. There are some differences between the requirements for applications for planning permission and applications for listed building consent.
What should be included in a Design and Access Statement?
(a) explain the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the proposed development; and
(b) demonstrate the steps taken to appraise the context of the proposed development, and how the design of the development takes that context into account.
A development’s context refers to the particular characteristics of the application site and its wider setting. These will be specific to the circumstances of an individual application and a Design and Access Statement should be tailored accordingly.
Design and Access Statements must also explain the applicant’s approach to inclusive access and how relevant Local Plan policies have been taken into account. They must detail any consultation undertaken in relation to access issues, and how the outcome of this consultation has informed the proposed development. Applicants must also explain how any specific issues which might affect access to the proposed development have been addressed.
The approach to inclusive access should not be limited to the access part of the statement. It should infuse the whole document. Inclusive access should explain how everyone can get to and move through the development on equal terms regardless of age, disability, ethnicity or social grouping.
Uses open to the public such as shops, hotels, care homes, schools or leisure centres must be accessible for everyone and homes must be accessible for all visitors.
The statement should also explain the principles that will be followed when all the details are designed, after permission is granted.
The statement will be a single document covering design and access. It should be succinct, written in Plain English and well-illustrated.
For more information on how to structure a Design and Access Statement please refer to the Design Council CABE publication Design and Access Statements: How to write, read and use them. (hyperlink: http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/resources/guide/design-and-access-statements-how-write-read-and-use-them).
We advise you to follow the structure within this document. Both South (hyperlink to guide) and Vale District Councils (hyperlink to guide) have adopted Design Guides (November 2016 and March 2015) which can help you in structuring your Design and Access Statement.
Presenting the information
A design and access statement can be presented in various formats. For most straightforward applications, the statement may be short. For some, only a page will be needed, whereas for more complicated proposals a more detailed document is likely to be necessary. For larger and more challenging sites, the design and access statement may also include drawings illustrating the various issues which the scheme has responded to. The statements may include, as appropriate, plans and elevations, sketches, photographs of the site and its surroundings, or even a model in the case of large and more complex schemes. However, such illustrations must not be used as a substitute for adequate drawings submitted with the application.
Pre-application discussions are critically important and benefit both developers and local planning authorities in ensuring a better mutual understanding of objectives and the constraints that exist. Local planning authorities and applicants should therefore take a positive attitude towards early engagement in pre-application discussions Design and Access statements can be a cost effective and useful way to discuss a proposal throughout the design process, whilst early discussion on the inclusive access component should help to establish any initial access issues.
The statement should summarise any consultation that you have carried out or have planned with regard to the design and accessibility of the proposal e.g. consulting access specialists, local groups and planners.
Design and Access considerations
The Design Council CABE publication referred to above covers the aspects that a Design and Access Statement must consider (Use, Amount, Layout, Scale, Appearance, Landscaping and Access).
What is required in a Design and Access Statement?
An application for planning permission shall be accompanied by a statement about the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the development and how issues relating to access to the development have been dealt with. A design and access statement should include the following information:
- Explain the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the development - demonstrated the steps taken to appraise the context of the development and how the design of the development takes that into account;
- Explain the policy adopted as to access, and how the policies relating to access in relevant local development documents have been taken into account;
- State what, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to access to the development and what account has been taken of the outcome of any such consultation; and,
- Explain how any specific issues which might affect access to the development have been addressed.
The Planning Portal
The Design Council who merged with CABE (Commission for Architecture in the Built Environment) in 2011.
Directgov – Public services all in one place www.direct.gov.uk/DisabledPeople/fs/en
National Register of Access Consultants
DFT Inclusive mobility guidance
Sport England Guidance
A good practice guide to Disabled People’s Access in the Countryside
Last reviewed: 01 - 06 - 2017