History of The Essex Design Guide

The Essex Design Guide (EDG) for Residential Areas was first published by Essex County Council (ECC) in 1973. Since its initial publication and through subsequent revisions (1997 and 2005) the document has guided development in Essex for almost 45 years. Published initially by ECC, later revisions of the EDG have been produced collaboratively with the Essex Planning Officers' Association (EPOA) including this 2018 edition.

The Essex Design Guide has received significant praise throughout its history for Pioneering Local Design from organisations including CABE.

“The Essex Design Guide has always been a true icon. The dictionary says an icon is an image or symbol which represents something important. The Essex Design Guide did that for Essex vernacular architecture. It has also come to symbolise the vision, leadership and commitment to quality of place that all local authorities should show, but which many, sadly, fail to achieve. The guide has been updated over the years but at its heart it’s still about more than architecture. It’s about leadership. It’s about civic pride. It’s about local people setting out the terms on which investors will be allowed to add to their most precious assets: their sense of place, identity and community. The Essex Design Guide is the guarantee that Essex will remain Essex. That it will be somewhere, not a nowhere place. It is as important now as when it was first published. An icon for our times.”

Richard Simmons, Chief Executive, CABE (2004-2011)

Design quality is of paramount importance in the development process and the Guide supports the delivery of best practice.

The Future

The updated version of the EDG retains the pioneering aspirations of the original while focusing firmly on the future – of both Essex and the EDG itself. In its interactive, online form, the EDG is more accessible and relevant than ever, while regular updates mean it can be effectively future-proofed – vital given the continually changing nature of modern development. 

The EDG will continue to be relevant to its core user base of planners, designers and developers who use it on a daily basis. The new online platform and case studies will also allow a greater user base to access and benefit from the content. It is our ambition that, through these changes, communities, politicians and the media will become better informed about design, planning processes and the importance of quality.


Page updated: 21/02/2018


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