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Design access statements additional guidance

This additional guidance provides extra information for applicants on preparing design and access statements.

Planning Applications

Design section

A design and access statement for a planning application should explain the design principles and concepts that have been applied to particular aspects of the proposal - these are the amount, layout, scale, landscaping and appearance of the development.


The amount of development is how much development is proposed. For residential development, this means the number of proposed units for residential use and for all other development this means the proposed floor space for each proposed use.

Amount cannot be reserved within an outline application, although it is common to express a maximum amount of floorspace for each use in the planning application and for this to be made the subject of a planning condition.

The design and access statement for both outline and detailed applications should explain the amount of the development proposed for each use, how this will be distributed across the site, how the proposal relates to the site's surrounding, and what consideration is being given to ensure that accessibility for users to and between parts of the development is maximised.

Where the application specifies a range of floorspace for a particular use, the reasons for this should be explained clearly in the design and access statement.


The layout is the way in which buildings, routes and open spaces (both private and public) are provided, placed and orientated in relation to each other and buildings and spaces surrounding the development.

If layout is reserved at the outline stage, the outline planning application should provide information on the approximate location of buildings, routes and open spaces proposed.

The design and access statement accompanying an outline application should explain the principles behind the choice of development zones and blocks or building plots proposed and how these principles, including the need for appropriate access will inform the details' layout. The use of illustrative diagrams is encouraged to assist in explaining this.

For applications, and outline applications where layout is not reserved, the design and access statement should explain the proposed layout in terms of the relationship between buildings and public and private spaces within and around the site, and how these relationships will help create safe, vibrant and successful places.

An indication should be also be given of factors important to accessibility of the site for users, such as travel distances and gradients, and the orientation of blocks and units in relation to any site topography to afford optimum accessibility. The layout of buildings can also have a profound impact on the energy consumption and thermal comfort during winter and summer, and thus the buildings carbon emission performance.

PPS1 makes clear that a key objective for new developments should be that they create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder or fear of crime does not undermine quality of life or community cohesion.

Design and access statement for outline and detailed applications should therefore demonstrate how crime prevention measures have been considered in the design of the proposal and how design reflects the attributes of safe, sustainable places set out in "Safer Places - The Planning system and Crime Prevention".


Scale is the height, width and length of a building or buildings in relation to its surroundings.

If scale as been reserved at outline stage, the application should still indicate parameters for the upper and lower limits of the height, width and length of each building, to establish a three-dimensional building envelope within which the detailed design of buildings will be constructed.

In such cases the design component of the statement should explain the principles behind these parameters and how these will inform the final scale of the buildings.

For applications, and outline applications that do not reserve scale the design and access statement should explain the scale of buildings proposed, including why particular heights have been settled upon, and how these relate to the sites surroundings and the relevant skyline. The statement should also explain the size of building parts, particularly entrances and facades with regard to how they will relate to the human scale.


Landscaping is the treatment of private and public spaces to enhance or protect the amenities of the site and the area in which it is situated through hard and soft landscaping measures. Statements should explain the function of the landscaping, for instance for sustainable drainage purposes, providing shading or other climate change adaptation purposes, and explain how it will be maintained.

If landscaping is reserved at outline stage the outline application does not need to provide any specific landscaping information. However, the design and access statement should still explain the principles that will inform any future landscaping scheme for the site.

For detailed application, and outline applications that do not reserve landscaping, the design and access statement should explain the proposed landscaping scheme, explaining the purpose of landscaping private and public spaces and its relationship to the surrounding area. Where possible, a schedule of planting and proposed hard landscaping materials to be used is recommended.

Some development proposals (for example, alterations to an existing building) may include no landscaping element. For such proposals, this section of the design and access statement would simply need to state why landscaping is not relevant to the application.


Appearance is the aspect of a place or building that determines the visual impression it makes, including the external built form of the development, its architecture, materials, decoration, lighting, colour and texture.

If appearance is reserved at the outline stage, the outline application does not need to provide any specific information on the issue. In such cases the design and access statement should explain the principles behind the intended appearance and how these will inform design of the development.

For detailed applications, and outline applications that do not reserve appearance, the design and access statement should explain the appearance and character of the development's surroundings. It should explain how the decisions taken about appearance have considered accessibility.

The choice of particular materials and textures will have significant impact upon a development's accessibility. Judicious use of materials, that contract tome and colour to define important features such as entrances, circulation routes or seating for example will greatly enhance access for everyone. Similarly early consideration of the location and levels of lighting will be critical to the standard of accessibility ultimately achieved.

Appraising the context

Development proposals that are not based on a good understanding of the local physical, economic and social context are often unsympathetic and poorly designed, and can lead to the exclusion of particular communities. An important part of a design and access statement is the explanation of how local context has influenced the design.

SI 2010/567 amends the treatment of context from April 2010. Context should now be discussed in relation to the scheme as a whole, rather than specifically in relation to the five sub-components of amount, layout, scale, landscaping and appearance.

A design and access statement should demonstrate the steps taken to appraise the contact of the proposed development. It is important that an applicant should understand the context in which their proposal will sit, and use this understanding when drawing up the application.

To gain good understanding of the context and use it appropriately applicants should follow a design process which includes:

  • Assessment of the site's immediate and wider context in terms of physical, social and economic characteristics and relevant planning policies. This may include both a desk survey and on-site observations and access audit. The extent of the area to be surveyed will depend on the nature, scale and sensitivity of the development.
  • Involvement of both community members and professionals. Depending on the scale, nature and sensitively of the proposed development, this might include, for example, consultation with local community and access groups and planning, building control, conservation, design and access officers. The statement should indicate how the findings of any consultation have been taken into account for the proposed development and how this has affected the proposal.
  • Evaluation of the information collected on the site's immediate and wider context, identifying opportunities and constraints and formulating design and access principles for the development. Evaluation may involve balancing any potentially conflicting issues that have been identified.
  • Design of the scheme using assessment, involvement and evaluation information collected. Understanding a development's context is vital to producing good design and inclusive access and applicants should avoid working retrospectively, trying to justify a pre-determined design through subsequent site assessment and evaluation.


A design and access statement should explain how this understanding of context has been considered in relation to its proposed use. The use is the use or mix of uses proposed for land and buildings. Use cannot be reserved within an outline application.

Design and access statements for both outline and detailed applications should explain the proposed uses or uses, their distribution across the site, the appropriateness of the accessibility to and between them, and their relationship to uses surrounding the site.

Access section

It is important to note that the requirement for the access component of the statement only relates to "access to the development" and therefore does not extend to internal aspects of individual buildings. (for further information see section 62(5) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as inserted by section 41(1) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).

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

The design and access statement should explain the policy adopted in relation to access and how relevant policies in the local development documents have been taken into account. The statement should provide information on any consultation undertaken in relation to issues of access and how the outcome of this consultation has informed the development proposals.

This should include, for example a brief explanation of the applicant's policy and approach to access, with particular reference to the inclusion of disabled people, and description of how the sources of advice on design and accessibility and technical issues will be, or have been followed.

Access for the emergency services should also be explained where relevant. Such information may include circulation routes round the site and egress from buildings in the event of emergency evacuation. 

For outline applications, where access is reserved, the application should still indicate the location of points of access on the site. Statements accompanying such applications should, however, clearly explain the principles which will be used to inform the access arrangements for the final development at all scales from neighbourhood movements patterns where appropriate to the treatment if individual access pints to buildings.

The level of detail provided in the access component of the statement should be proportionate to the nature and scale of the access that will be required to the site. For proposals which have no public access and only limited maintenance or operational access, the access component need not be too long.

Listed Building Consent applications

Design and access statements are also required for listed building consent. They are similar to design and access statements for planning applications, especially in respect of the need for a proportionate approach, although there are some differences in content because of the differing nature of the application.

Where a planning application is submitted in parallel with an application for listed building consent, a single, combined statement should address the requirements of both. The combined statement should address the elements required in relation to a planning application in the normal way and the additional requirement in relation to listed building consent.

The design and access statement should explain the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the scale, layout and appearance characteristics of a proposal. Scale, layout and appearance are broadly the same as outlined for planning applications. Information on use, mount and landscaping is not required for listed building consent design and access statements that do not also accompany a planning permission.

In addition to following the broad approach for design and access statements those relating to listed building consent should include a brief explanation on how the design has taken account of Planning for the Historic Environment.

The statement should make clear how the approach to access has balance the duties imposed by the Disability Discrimination Act, where the proposal is subject to those, and the particular historical and architectural significance of the building.

The statement should detail any specific issues that arise particularly with regard to the fact that the building is listed, the range of options considered and, where inclusive design has not been provided, the statement should explain why.

For alterations to existing buildings where the fabric of the structure restricts the ability to meet minimum level of accessibility, details should be provided of the solutions that will be put into place to minimise the impact on disabled people and ensure that any services provided within the building are made available on other ways.


Additional information

►  "Secured by Design"

"Safer Places - The Planning System and Crime Prevention"

Planning for the Historic Environment

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