Dacorum Borough Council is one of 14 councils across England given £50k each to develop new design codes as part of a nation-wide testing programme.
The new design codes will set out design principles for new development in Dacorum and will be expected to enhance the character of the local area and ensure future design quality – meaning developments are beautiful, well-designed and locally-led.
During the six-month pilot, Dacorum will use the National Model Design Code (NMDC) to consider new developments’ design principles, such as street character, building type and façade as well as environmental, heritage and wellbeing factors. The pilot aims to help Britain to Build Back Better, by making sure current and new residents alike benefit from beautiful homes in well-designed neighbourhoods. Dacorum will be engaging with the local community during this process, giving local residents and businesses a chance to have a say about key design principals that could form the final code.
The measures mean the word ‘beauty’ will be prioritised in planning rules for the first time since the British planning system was first created in 1947. The government recently consulted on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to take this forward, alongside the draft NMDC.
Cllr Alan Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Infrastructure at Dacorum Borough Council, said: ‘Irrespective of the arguments over the amount of new housing to be built in Dacorum over the next decade and beyond, we know there will be new development in the Borough. Being part of this pilot will ensure that the character and beauty of Dacorum is retained and that our borough continues to be somewhere people can live happy, healthy and sustainable lives. It’s also a great opportunity for residents to have their say in the layout, design and appearance of buildings in their area.’
Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP said: ‘We should aspire to enhance the beauty of our local areas and pass our cultural heritage onto our successors, enriched not diminished. In order to do that, we need to bring about a profound and lasting change in the buildings that we build, which is one of the reasons we are placing a greater emphasis on locally popular design, quality and access to nature, through our national planning policies and introducing the National Model Design Code.
‘These will enable local people to set the rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our local character and identity. Instead of developers forcing plans on locals, they will need to adapt to proposals from local people, ensuring that current and new residents alike will benefit from beautiful homes in well-designed neighbourhoods.’
Dacorum Borough Council will be consulting on its proposals for a case study in Hemel Hempstead Town Centre in the coming weeks. They aim to complete the pilot project by winter 2021.