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The built environment is a cultural asset. It is essential to design it well and to manage and maintain it to high standards. The ‘style’ of a building or a place is an important design consideration. 

However high quality design can best be recognised where buildings and spaces are fit for purpose and are flexible and durable; the development is in the right place, and responds to its surroundings and environmental imperatives, such as minimising its carbon footprint, and where development creates spaces and places that people will enjoy.  

Design is undoubtedly a creative process where policies, agendas and research are transformed into the creation of places for people. The planning system is one of the key levers for ensuring good design is delivered.  

This module has been produced and updated to provide a concise guide to the planning process. It integrates the principles of placemaking and sustainability to provide the design principles for consideration in developing and assessing development schemes.  This guidance is therefore intended for use by local planning authorities, developers and design and building professionals. 

This module reflects the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Implemented by the government in 2012 to replace the Planning Policy Statements, it aims to simplify the previous planning policy statements into a single document. It reflects the aspirations of the government set out in the National Planning Policy Framework to create better quality, sustainable and larger housing stock. 

Good design is a key aspect of achieving sustainable development; this is not only about individual buildings but the whole development. This includes public and private spaces that function throughout the lifetime of the development. The ten district councils of Hertfordshire are the local planning authorities; each has a Local Development Framework which contains extensive policies and guidance on sustainability and design matters.  

The County Council’s Environment and Commercial Services Department has specialist teams providing guidance and advice on landscape, archaeology, minerals and highway matters. The Police Architectural Liaison Service also has a significant input into the design process. 

Building Futures consists of a programme of advisory modules, both web and print based, which are endorsed by the 11 local authorities of Hertfordshire. Each module explores an aspect of sustainability in relation to development. It should be stressed however, that it is important to read across the range of modules, to understand how they interact. This is particularly the case in this design module, which, as design is inevitably an integrating process, draws upon all of the other Building Futures modules. 

Table 1:  National design principles and objectives

Design - introduction

Click table to enlarge

The table above provides a quick reference framework considering Design matter during the concept and design stages of development schemes. Applicants, developers and decision-makers should refer to this when considering and developing schemes.