A Village Design Statement is practical tool to help influence decisions on design and development that if prepared correctly, will provide a clear statement of the character of a particular village or town against which planning applications may be assessed. It is not about whether development should take place (that is the purpose of your council’s Local Plan), but about how development should be undertaken so as to respect the local identity.
Why choose a VDS?
A Village Design Statement can contribute towards your village retaining a sense of place by describing and analysing the local character and distinctiveness that gives your village its identify. Local people are well placed to identify this local character and distinctiveness, whether it is in terms of the landscape setting of the village, the pattern and shape of the settlement, the nature of buildings, spaces or landmarks and any special features. Community engagement, as part of a structured Community Led Planning process, is a vital element of producing a successful VDS and is an area in which Northamptonshire ACRE has extensive experience.
Producing an effective VDS
An effective VDS should be produced through widespread consultation and represent the views of the village as a whole. It should:
- Describe the visual character of your village
- Demonstrate how local character and distinctiveness can be protected and enhanced in new development
- Be compatible with the statutory planning system and be suitable for approval by the local authority as supporting its Local Plan – you can’t prevent development taking place but you can determine or manage how the development is undertaken so that it keeps the local identify and character.
- Be applicable to all forms and scale of development
Adoption of VDS as Supplementary Planning Document
If your VDS meets the local authority development criteria, it can be adopted by the council as either ‘material considerations’ or Supplementary Planning Documents. SPDs are part of the Local Development Framework, tend to carry more weight and supplement the main Development Plan Documents. Planning guidance says that SPDs should provide “additional information to existing plan policies/proposals to assist planning decisions”.
They are also given ‘substantial weight’ as a material consideration in planning decisions, particularly if the SPD accords with national guidance or policy and has been subject of consultation in your community. Planning Officers must refer to the approved VDS/SPD before they make a decision that affects your area and applicants who wish to develop there should also consult the guidance before preparing any proposals.
Northamptonshire ACRE can provide guidance and support to your village if you decide to progress with a Village Design Statement. Please leave a comment below for the attention of Elaine O’Leary if you would like to discuss this further.