Design and Access Statement

From 10 August 2006 most planning applications will need to be supported by Design and Access Statements. This requirement, which will not apply to development within the curtilage of a dwelling house, is being introduced by Article 6 of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) (Amendment) (England) Order 2006. 

A Design & Access Statement is a short report accompanying and supporting a planning application to illustrate the process that has led to the development proposal and to explain and justify the proposal in a structured way. One statement should cover both design and access, allowing applicants to demonstrate an integrated approach that will deliver inclusive design and address a full range of access requirements throughout the design process. 

The aim is to help ensure development proposals are based on a thoughtful design process and a sustainable approach to access. 

A Design and Access Statement will have 3 components: 

  1. Design
  2. Appraising the Context
  3. Access

 1. The Design Component

The statement should explain the design principles and concepts that have been applied to particular aspects of the proposal – these are:

(a) the amount: the Statement should explain and justify the amount of development proposed, how it will be distributed and how the proposal relates to the site’s surroundings. Further it should explain what consideration is given to ensure that accessibility for users to and between parts of the development is maximised.

(b) layout: the statement should explain and justify the principles behind the choice of development zones and blocks or building plots proposed. It should explain the layout in terms of the relationship between buildings and public and private spaces within and around the site together with the measures taken to afford optimum accessibility. In addition, the statement should demonstrate how crime prevention matters have been considered in the design and how the design reflects the attributes of safe, sustainable places set out in ‘Safer Places –the Planning System and Crime Prevention’

(c) scale: the statement should explain and justify the scale of buildings proposed, how particular heights have been settled upon and how these relate to the surroundings. The Statement should also explain and justify the size of building parts, particularly entrances and facades and how they will relate to the human scale.

(d) landscaping: the statement should explain the purpose of landscaping private and public spaces and its relationship to the surrounding area. It should explain how landscaping will be maintained. It should show how the design of outside spaces will make them attractive, useful and environmentally responsible.

(e) appearance: is defined as the aspect of the place or building that determines the visual impression it makes. The statement should explain and justify the appearance of the proposed buildings, how they relate to the character of the development’s surroundings and how decisions taken about appearance have considered accessibility (including the use of colour, tone and lighting in relation to entrances, circulation routes etc). The statement should acknowledge that appearance changes throughout the day and seasons

 2. Appraising the Context

The statement must demonstrate the steps that have been taken to appraise the context of the proposed development. This appraisal should include:

(a) Assessment of the site’s immediate and wider context in the following terms:

  • Physical context – the physical nature and character of the area including its landscape, buildings, open spaces, movement networks and historical environment
  • Social context – who uses the area and how, including what uses and community facilities are available, social mixes and local aspirations
  • Economic context – how the local economy functions, and its relationship to the viability of the proposal
  • Policy context - local, regional and national objectives, policies and guidance

(b) Involvement The statement should indicate how the findings of any consultation have been taken into account in the proposed development. These consultations might include local community and access groups as well as professionals such as planning, design and access officers.

(c) Evaluation of information to identify opportunities and constraints and formulating design and access principles for the development, including balancing any potentially conflicting issues

(d) Design: synthesis of the above issues: applicants should avoid working retrospectively, trying to justify a pre-determined design through subsequent site assessment and evaluation. 

In the light of this understanding of the context the statement should explain how this has been considered in relation to the proposed uses and their inter-relationship to uses surrounding the site. 

The statement should explain how the context has been considered in relation to those aspects identified under the Design component, i.e. the amount, layout, scale, landscaping and appearance of the development. 

3. The Access Component

The statement 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. This should include:

  • The policy or approach adopted to access and how policies in local development documents have been taken into account.
  • What, if any, consultation on access issues has been undertaken and how this has had a bearing on the proposal.
  • How any specific issues which might affect access to the development have been addressed, with particular reference to the inclusion of disabled people, including access to the public transport network.
  • How prospective users will access the development and why the main access points have been chosen.
  • How features which ensure access will be maintained, including egress routes from buildings in case of emergency.

Page updated: 9/02/2018


Make the most of the Essex Design Guide, register today

As well as ensuring you are always in the know about future changes and updates to the Essex Design Guide, registering with us will enable to you to add and manage bookmarks throughout the site, so your most-used areas of the guide are always easy to find.

Register for updates

© 2019 Copyright Essex County Council. All rights reserved.