Design and access statements as an assessment tool to promote quality sustainable development: reflections on practice in NE England

Elaine Paterson

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Abstract

Planners play an important role in seeking sustainable urban design solutions, including making critical decisions on planning applications. Design decisions in planning have frequently been controversial and criticised as being subjective and too interventionist. Decisions on the design element of proposed developments are arrived at, by local planning authorities, using information provided by the applicant/developer, consideration of relevant local and national policy, observation by planners on site, views from the public and statutory consultees, negotiation between developers and planners and finally views of local councillors. This is a complex set of information and ways to clarify and expedite such decisions are needed. One recent attempt by the government to do this followed the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, 2004. Regulations came into force in August 2006 requiring developers to submit a Design and Access Statement (DAS) with most applications. A DAS is intended to assist design decision making in the planning process by clarifying the design approach of the applicant from the outset, so facilitating greater common understanding by all concerned. It appears the government is currently supporting constructive intervention by planning authorities on design issues, and so reinforcing the legitimacy of democratically accountable design decisions. The government hope that DAS will make the process and outcome of decision making more open, rigorous and sustainable. This paper seeks to briefly chart the background to government intervention in design decision making through planning. It then specifically investigates whether DAS are in fact perceived as improving decision making from the local planning authority perspective, as well as the developer perspective, using primary data from NE England. Comparisons are made with a recent national study by the Planning Advisory Service on DAS. This reveals different viewpoints on the extent to which the introduction of DAS is helping the design decision making process. Developers are more critical than LPAs, but all perceive some value in the process and offer views on potential improvements.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventSue-MOT Conference: Second International Conference on Whole Life Urban Sustainability and its Assessment - Loughborough, UK
Duration: 1 Jan 2009 → …

Conference

ConferenceSue-MOT Conference: Second International Conference on Whole Life Urban Sustainability and its Assessment
Period1/01/09 → …

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