Wiltshire Design Guide
Developing a Wiltshire Design Guide
To ensure that new developments, particularly new housing developments, are of a consistent and high quality standard of design, we are preparing a Wiltshire Design Guide.
In the Housing White Paper in 2017 , the government concluded that "Good design is fundamental to creating healthy and attractive places where people genuinely want to live, and which can cater for all members of the community, young or old." One of its key proposals was "Giving communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to drive up the quality and character of new development, building on the success of neighbourhood planning".
Subsequently, in 2019 the government produced The National Design Guide. This addresses the question of how we recognise well-designed places, by outlining and illustrating the government's priorities for well-designed places in the form of 10 characteristics.
It "sets out a blueprint for how local authorities can achieve quality and great design, and recommends what developers need to deliver to help win the support of communities - ensuring new homes are built faster and better."
However, it states "Specific, detailed and measurable criteria for good design are most appropriately set out at the local level. They may take the form of local design policies, design guides or design codes, prepared either by local authorities, or applicants to accompany planning applications."
Under current National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) legislation in the absence of locally produced design guides or design codes, the NPPF and The National Design Guide are to be used to guide decisions on applications.
The Wiltshire Core Strategy (WCS) is under review and adoption of the Local Plan is anticipated by end 2023.
The opportunity now exists to create a county-wide Design Guide that sets out at the local level what the "specific, detailed and measurable criteria" are, that are most important to the people of Wiltshire. To ensure that what is produced has local support, a draft guide would undergo statutory consultation. It could then be adopted as an SPD. But first, we are looking to gauge initial thoughts on this proposal.
The NPPF states that "The creation of high quality, beautiful and sustainable buildings and places is fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve.... Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, creates better places in which to live and work and helps make development acceptable to communities....Being clear about design expectations, and how these will be tested, is essential for achieving this."
So, to provide maximum clarity about design expectations, we will produce a county-wide design guide which reflects local distinctiveness, local issues and priorities.
The NPPF recommends that this local design guide should "provide a local framework for creating beautiful and distinctive places with a consistent and high quality standard of design" and that "the level of detail and degree of prescription should be tailored to the circumstances and scale of change in each place, and should allow a suitable degree of variety."
We expect that this means a Wiltshire Design Guide should create new design guidance that would apply across all of Wiltshire, but which does not exist in the National Design Guide.
We expect that Neighbourhood Plans should continue to prepare design guidance which relates only to specific neighbourhoods or sites.
Therefore, a short guidance document and template for Wiltshire's Neighbourhood Planning groups could also be created to assist them in incorporating design guidance or design codes that address local distinctiveness, local issues and priorities at a site specific or neighbourhood level. We would hope that this approach lowers the burden on local communities to address the more general matters of design, and instead focus on what is locally distinctive and a local priority for their area, which the county guide cannot feasibly account for.