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Plans and Design & Access Statements

Plans and Design and Access Statements submitted with Planning Applications are expected to indicate how the needs of users and the associated design standards will be met. For residential developments the level of detail required is significant; internal layouts must be shown and relevant services indicated.

Design and Access Statements

The purpose of a Design and Access Statement is to explain how the proposals have evolved and their suitability for the site. The Statement is an opportunity for the developers and designers to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable, inclusive and accessible design and how the proposed spatial framework satisfies regional and local planning policies, will facilitate compliance with Building Regulations and demonstrates best practice. The Design and Access Statement is a useful design and appraisal tool and should continue to develop as the design is refined and will provide an essential companion document to the plans, describing features that are not evident on plan and provisions that will be of importance to future managers and occupiers.

Since 25 June 2013 Design and Access statements are only statutorily required for:

  • major developments; and

  • where any part of the development is in a conservation area and provides one or more dwelling houses; or where the floorspace created by the development is 100sqm or more.

Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) (Amendment) Order 2013 provides further details.


Whether statutorily required or not, at the planning stage the Design and Access Statement should clearly demonstrate the applicant's approach to inclusion and show how all potential users, taking into account ability, age and gender differences approach and enter the site, move around the site, enter and circulate the buildings and use their facilities. 

It is recommended that applicants create a narrative text, adopting a sequential journey to, through and out of the proposed development; describing the provisions made, the constraints that maybe unavoidable and what measures have been taken to overcome them.

It is recommended that a marked-up plan at an appropriate scale, including sections showing relevant gradients and any changes in level, is submitted with the Access Statement. The statement should give details of any national standards used, e.g. BS8300: 2009 and Inclusive Mobility (outdoor pedestrian guidelines), and in the case of residential development, Lifetime Homes and Wheelchair Housing Standards.

For major schemes applicants are advised to appoint an appropriately skilled and independent access consultant to work with designers and the project team through to completion of the project.

The applicant would also be advised at this stage to consider the implications of the Equalities Act 2010, to ensure that the design and management of the scheme uphold the spirit of the Act and mitigate the chances of any legal challenge.

In any event Design and Access Statements  should describe:

  • the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the development;
  • the steps taken to appraise the context of the development and how the design of the development takes that context into account;

  • how policies relating to access in relevant local development documents have been taken into account;

  • what, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to access to the development and what account has been taken of the outcome of any such consultation; and

how specific issues which might affect access to the development have been addressed.

Further information

Further guidance is provided by CABE (now the Design Council).

Also of value is the Department for Communities and Local Government "Planning and Access for Disabled People: A Good Practice Guide".

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