InSite | National Model Design Code pilot scheme

Pilot scheme for new local design codes launched

The government has selected 14 councils across England to test the use of the National Model Design Code.


Each council will be given £50,000 to develop the design principles for new developments in their area. The local design codes will aim to enhance the character of the area in terms of building type and facade with consideration of factors relating to the environment, heritage and wellbeing.


The councils chosen reflect a geographical spread throughout the country as well as a range of development types including town centres, rural areas, new neighbourhoods, and urban conservation and regeneration sites. The councils selected are: Leeds, Guildford, Portsmouth, Herefordshire, Mid Devon, Newcastle, North West Leicestershire, Dacorum, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Sefton, Southwark, Colchester Tendring and Essex, Hyndburn, North West Leicestershire and Buckinghamshire.


It is hoped through this six-month testing programme that the government will learn the best approach to engage communities and give them a real say in the layout, design and appearance of local buildings.


“Instead of developers forcing plans on locals, they will need to adapt to proposals from local people, ensuring that current and new residents alike will benefit from beautiful homes in well-designed neighbourhoods.”


– Christopher Pincher, Minister of State for Housing


What is the purpose of the National Model Design Code?


The National Model Design Code aims to provide guidance on the production of local design codes that lead to successful design. It sets a baseline standard of quality and practice which local planning authorities are expected to take into account when developing the codes and determining planning applications. These include:


  • The layout of new development, including street pattern
  • How landscaping should be approached, including the importance of streets being tree-lined
  • The factors to be considered when determining whether façades of buildings are of sufficiently high quality
  • The environmental performance of place and buildings, ensuring they contribute to net zero targets
  • That developments should clearly take account of local vernacular and heritage, architecture and materials


What does good design look like?


According to the National Design Guide, which is expanded in the Code, there are 10 characteristics of well-designed places:


  • Lifespan: made to last
  • Context: enhances the surroundings
  • Identity: attractive and distinctive
  • Built form: a coherent pattern of development
  • Movement: accessible and easy to move around
  • Nature: enhanced and optimised
  • Public spaces: safe, social and inclusive
  • Uses: mixed and integrated
  • Homes and buildings: functional, healthy and sustainable
  • Resources: efficient and resilient


To find out more, take a look at the National Model Design Code.


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