Design and access statements, what are they?

Design and access statements are documents which explain the thoughts behind the designs for a new planning application. They are submitted as well as the application which is made public for anyone to see, and so they should avoid any jargon or using very technical language. It is very important that they are written specifically  for the application which they are accompanying.

The statement should include a written description and justification of the planning application, sometimes photos, maps may need to be added as supplementary information to clearly illustrate the points made.  They don’t need to be very long, but they should be long enough that the included details reflect how complex the project is, therefore, a statement for a major development would be longer than one for a singular building.

The document itself should include a brief description of the process which brought you to the scheme which you are submitting. This should include the thinking process behind each of the following points:

  • Use – What the development will be used for.
  • Amount – How much is being built on-site.
  • Layout – How the building(s) and private space will be arranged on-site, and the relationships between those and the existing buildings around the site.
  • Scale – How big the building(s) will be (height, width and length are all included).
  • Landscaping – How open spaces will be treated to enhance and protect the character of a place.
  • Appearance – What the development will look like. (E.g. materials, detail etc.).
  • Access – The statement should include two possible aspects of entrance.
  • Transport links – Why the access points shown have been chosen.
  • Inclusive access – How everyone can get to, and move through the place equally regardless of age, disability, ethnicity or social grouping.

The rules for outline applications changed so that they must include a minimum amount of detail on:

  • What the building(s) will be used for
  • How many building(s) there will be
  • Roughly, how they will be laid out
  • Minimum and maximum building sizes
  • Where entrances to the site will be.

They should also include some information about how having the development can create accessible and safe environments, including addressing crime and disorder and fear of crime. They can include more information than the brief description given here, if the applicant believes that the extra information is also relevant.

In short, statements accompany an application but they’re not apart of it, they should explain and justify what is being applied for and this statement should set out the aims for the whole design, even if some details still need to be drawn up.

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics.

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