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Design and access statements

A design and access statement is a document that is required to be provided with planning and listed building consent applications that explains how design and access issues have been considered in preparing a development scheme.

The aim of design and access statements is to ensure that applicants undertake a rigorous approach when conceiving applications to ensure the urban environment is well designed.

Depending on the nature of the development the complexity of the design and access statement will vary. Ideally the statement should be kept brief, concise and clearly outline and demonstrate the thinking behind the application.

Design and access statement

2015 No.595

Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure)(England)Order 2015

1)        A Design and Access Statement must accompany applications for planning permission which is for:

a)  Development which is major development;

b)  Where any part of the development is in a designated area, development consisting of:

                       i.       The provision of one or more dwellinghouses; or

                      ii.       The provision of a building or buildings where the floor space created by the development is 100 square metres or more.

2)     An application for planning permission to which this article applies shall be accompanied by a statement ("a design and access statement") about

a)    The design principles and concepts that have been applied to the development; and

b)    How issues relating to access to the development have been dealt with.

3)        A design and access statement shall:

a.  Explain the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the development;

b.  Demonstrate the steps taken to appraise the context of the development and how the design of the development takes that context into account;

c.   Explain the policy adopted as to access, and how policies relating to access in relevant local development documents have been taken into account;

d.  State what, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to access the development and what account has been taken of the outcome of any such consultation; and

e.  Explain how many specific issues which might affect access to the development have been addressed.

4)        This article does not apply to an application for planning permission which is:

a.  For permission to develop land without compliance with conditions previously attached, made pursuant to section 73 of the 1990 Act (a);

b.  Of the description contained in article 18(1)(b) or (c);

c.   For engineering or mining operations;

d.  For material change in use of the land or buildings;

e.  For development which is waste development.


Your statutory obligations

The requirements are set out by Article 3 of Statutory Instrument 2015/595 which sets out the legal requirements for Design and Access Statements. See also the Explanatory memorandum.

A design and access statement which addresses all the statutory requirements must be provided for all applications types listed above.

Please note that if the statutory requirements are not met, planning law prevents the council from validating the application and this may result in time delays.


Planning applications design and access statement

Design section


1) Evaluate the circumstances and facts that surround/relate to the site and its surroundings (i.e. the site context). You will need to appraise the context. This is an explanation of the local context of physical, social, economic and policy aspects of the site. By way of further explanation:

  • The physical context will include such things as physical features of the land, the slope, existing buildings, boundaries, surrounding buildings, road, paths etc;
  • the social context means how people in the locality will be affected by the proposal e.g. any aspiration they have for the use of the land;
  • the economic context means the contribution of the proposal on local economy;
  • and the policy context means the guidance and policy that exists which is relevant to the land and the proposal. This should include references to relevant development plan (e.g. regional structure plan and local plan) policies as well as national policies (planning policy guidance/statements) and circulars that have been identified in this step. 

2) Establish design principles that take account of the site context considered in step (1). In other words explain the approach the designer took to overcome the issues identified in step (1).

3) Explain the scheme in terms of the amount, layout, scale, landscaping and appearance of the development proposed.

Please refer to guidance on content above.

Access section


1) Consider access to the site and any policies that are relevant to access e.g. vehicular and pedestrian.

2) Consider the approach to providing access to the development site and how this is consistent with any government policies relating to access (e.g. ULP Policy GEN1).

3) Identify and explain any necessary consultation undertaken (e.g. discussions with Essex County Council as either the highways or passenger transport authority, access groups for people with disabilities).

4) Explain how any access arrangements will ensure that all users will have equal and convenient access to buildings and spaces and the publish transport network. The statement should address the need for flexibility of the development and how it may adapt to changing needs.

Please refer to guidance on content above.

Design and access statement templates

You can use these templates to create your design and access statement. There is one for planning applications and one for listed buildings consent applications

You will need to download the latest version of Acrobat Reader to complete the forms, which will then need to be saved and either emailed to, or printed and posted.

Please note that if, when you fill out a form, your answer takes up more space than the provided box, you will need to use a separate sheet.

Design and Access Statement for Planning Consent form (PDF) [396KB]


The following selection of guides can be viewed and downloaded using these external links to the Planning Portal and and other Government websites.

View Planning Policy Statements and Guidance (PPS & PPG) on the Planning Portal

SI 2015 595 of The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 consolidates the provisions of the 2010 Order and subsequent amendments in so far as they apply to England. In addition to the consolidation the Development Management Procedure Order 2015 also includes further substantive changes.

SI 2015 595 

Explanatory memorandum


Additional information

Design access statements additional guidance