Last edited 25 May 2021

National Design Guide

National Design Guide 800.jpg

On the 1st October 2019, the government launched a National Design Guide (NDG) to show how well-designed places that are ‘beautiful, enduring and successful’ can be achieved. The NDG is intended to help local authorities achieve quality and excellence in design but also asks them to prepare and implement their own design guides in line with the national standard. The publication of the NDG was accompanied by the launch of the government's green housing revolution.

The National Design Guide is based on the National Planning Policy Framework which highlights that a fundamental part of the planning and development process is creating high quality buildings and places. At the heart of this process is good design which is defined as being:

The guide also supports paragraph 130 of the National Planning Policy Framework which states that designs should be refused permission if they fail to improve the character and quality of an area and the way it functions.

Place-making is given equal emphasis in the NDG. Places evolve over time, can be the setting for a diverse range of activities, and are made up of buildings, landscapes and infrastructure, and when they are well designed, places can benefit people and communities.

The NDG outlines the government’s priorities in the form of 10 characteristics which are brought together in a well-designed place and help nurture and sustain a sense of community:

  1. Context – enhances the surroundings.
  2. Identity – attractive and distinctive.
  3. Built form – a coherent pattern of development.
  4. Movement – accessible and easy to move around.
  5. Nature – enhanced and optimised.
  6. Public spacessafe, social and inclusive.
  7. Uses – mixed and integrated.
  8. Homes and buildings – functional, healthy and sustainable.
  9. Resources – efficient and resilient.
  10. Lifespan – made to last.

These characteristics can work together to create physical character, help nurture and sustain a sense of community and address environmental issues affecting climate.

The National Design Guide comprises four parts:


Gillian Charlesworth, Chief Executive of BRE Group said: "We share Government’s ambition to increase the supply of green, environmentally friendly homes that people want in their local communities. With the impacts of climate change already disrupting people’s homelife, through flooding and overheating, we must take every opportunity to ensure new homes have as little impact upon our climate whilst also addressing societies changing needs." Ref BRE response to the green housing revolution.

In January 2021, the government opened a consultation on a draft National Model Design Code which expands on the ten characteristics of good design set out in the National Design Guide. For more information see: National Model Design Code.

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