National Planning Policy Framework

7. Requiring good design

Paragraphs 56 to 68

56. The government attaches great importance to the design of the built environment. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, is indivisible from good planning, and should contribute positively to making places better for people.

57. It is important to plan positively for the achievement of high quality and inclusive design for all development, including individual buildings, public and private spaces and wider area development schemes.

58. Local and neighbourhood plans should develop robust and comprehensive policies that set out the quality of development that will be expected for the area. Such policies should be based on stated objectives for the future of the area and an understanding and evaluation of its defining characteristics. Planning policies and decisions should aim to ensure that developments:

  • will function well and add to the overall quality of the area, not just for the short term but over the lifetime of the development
  • establish a strong sense of place, using streetscapes and buildings to create attractive and comfortable places to live, work and visit
  • optimise the potential of the site to accommodate development, create and sustain an appropriate mix of uses (including incorporation of green and other public space as part of developments) and support local facilities and transport networks
  • respond to local character and history, and reflect the identity of local surroundings and materials, while not preventing or discouraging appropriate innovation
  • create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion
  • are visually attractive as a result of good architecture and appropriate landscaping

59. Local planning authorities should consider using design codes where they could help deliver high quality outcomes. However, design policies should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail and should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout, materials and access of new development in relation to neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally.

60. Planning policies and decisions should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should not stifle innovation, originality or initiative through unsubstantiated requirements to conform to certain development forms or styles. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness.

61. Although visual appearance and the architecture of individual buildings are very important factors, securing high quality and inclusive design goes beyond aesthetic considerations. Therefore, planning policies and decisions should address the connections between people and places and the integration of new development into the natural, built and historic environment.

62. Local planning authorities should have local design review arrangements in place to provide assessment and support to ensure high standards of design.

They should also when appropriate refer major projects for a national design review1. In general, early engagement on design produces the greatest benefits. In assessing applications, local planning authorities should have regard to the recommendations from the design review panel.

63. In determining applications, great weight should be given to outstanding or innovative designs which help raise the standard of design more generally in the area.

64. Permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions.

65. Local planning authorities should not refuse planning permission for buildings or infrastructure which promote high levels of sustainability because of concerns about incompatibility with an existing townscape, if those concerns have been mitigated by good design (unless the concern relates to a designated heritage asset and the impact would cause material harm to the asset or its setting which is not outweighed by the proposal’s economic, social and environmental benefits).

66. Applicants will be expected to work closely with those directly affected by their proposals to evolve designs that take account of the views of the community. Proposals that can demonstrate this in developing the design of the new development should be looked on more favourably.

67. Poorly placed advertisements can have a negative impact on the appearance of the built and natural environment. Control over outdoor advertisements should be efficient, effective and simple in concept and operation. Only those advertisements which will clearly have an appreciable impact on a building or on their surroundings should be subject to the local planning authority’s detailed assessment. Advertisements should be subject to control only in the interests of amenity and public safety, taking account of cumulative impacts.

Related guidance: Advertisements

68. Where an area justifies a degree of special protection on the grounds of amenity, an Area of Special Control Order2 may be approved. Before formally proposing an Area of Special Control, the local planning authority is expected to consult local trade and amenity organisations about the proposal. Before a direction to remove deemed planning consent is made for specific advertisements3, local planning authorities will be expected to demonstrate that the direction would improve visual amenity and there is no other way of effectively controlling the display of that particular class of advertisement. The comments of organisations, and individuals, whose interests would be affected by the direction should be sought as part of the process.

Related guidance: Advertisements


  1. Currently provided by Design Council Cabe. 

  2. Regulation 20, The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007. 

  3. Regulation 7, The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007.