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Since 10th August 2006, it has been a legal requirement that Design and Access Statements are submitted to accompany planning applications for certain proposals.
A design and access statement is a short report accompanying and supporting a planning application to illustrate the process that has led to the development that is proposed, and to explain the proposal in a structured way. The level of detail required in a DAS depends on the scale and complexity of the application, and the length of the statement varies accordingly. Statements must be proportionate to the complexity of the application, but need not be long.
Design and access statements allow local communities, access groups, amenity groups and other stakeholders to involve themselves in the planning process without needing to understand plans that may be technical and confusing.
When a design and access statement is required
Changes in legislation took effect on 6th April 2010. Design and access statements are now required for all planning applications for full and outline planning permission, with the following exceptions, and for all applications for listed building consent.
(a) Development of land pursuant to section 73 (determination of applications to develop land without conditions previously attached) of the Act;
(b) engineering or mining operations;
(c) a material change in use of land or buildings;
(d) development of an existing dwellinghouse or flat, or development within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse or flat for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse or flat, where no part of that dwelling, flat or curtilage is within a designated area*;
(e) the extension of an existing building used for non-domestic purposes where the floor space created by the development does not exceed 100 square metres and where no part of the building or the development is within a designated area*.
(f) the erection, construction, improvement or alteration of a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure where —
(i) as a result of the development, the height of the gate, fence, wall or means of enclosure does not exceed its former height, or 2 metres above ground level, whichever is the greater; and
(ii) it does not involve development within the curtilage of, or to a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure surrounding, a listed building;
and where no part of the development is within a designated area*;
(g) development on operational land consisting of the erection of a building where—
(i) the cubic content of the development does not exceed 100 cubic metres; and
(ii) as a result of the development, the height of the building does not exceed 15 metres above ground level, or its former height, whichever is the greater;
and where no part of the development is within a designated area*;
(h) the alteration of an existing building where the alteration does not increase the size of the building and where no part of the building is within a designated area*;
i) the erection, alteration or replacement of plant or machinery where, as a result of the development, the height of the plant or machinery does not exceed 15 metres above ground level, or its former height, whichever is the greater, and where no part of the development is within a designated area*;
(j) an application for planning permission where the development that is the subject of the application—
(i) has not yet begun; and
(ii) was granted planning permission on or before 1st October 2009 subject to a time limit imposed by or under section 91 (general condition limiting duration of planning permission) or 92 (outline planning permission) of the 1990 Act (a) which has not expired; or
(k) an application for outline planning permission where the development that is the subject of the application—
(i) has begun in accordance with the terms of, and any reserved matters approved under, an outline planning permission which is required or expressly permitted to be implemented in phases, other than a permission granted on an application made under paragraph (b); and
(ii) was granted that outline planning permission on or before 1st October 2009 subject to a time limit which has not expired.
* In the context of Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council a designated area means a Conservation Area (the legislation also defines a designated area as a World Heritage Site).
The status of the design and access statement
The Act enables Local Planning Authorities to refuse to register applications that are submitted without a DAS, when it is required, on the grounds that they are invalid. Similarly, statements which do not follow the requirements of a statement will prevent an application from being registered.
The Design and Access Statement will be a material consideration, and the commitments made within them may be enforced through conditions or Legal Agreements.
What is required: general points
Statements should evolve throughout the design and development process and should explain the proposals already set out in the planning application. The most important message a design and access statement should deliver is that the proposal is based on a good understanding of the character and setting of the application site.
The design and access statement should cover the design principles and concepts that have been applied to particular aspects of the proposal. These are;
Amount – how much development is proposed and why this is considered appropriate.
Layout – the way in which buildings, routes and open spaces are provided, placed and orientated in relation to each other and buildings and spaces surrounding the development.
Scale – the height, width and length of a building or buildings in relation to its surroundings and how this fits into the local environment.
Landscaping – the treatment of private and public spaces to enhance or protect the amenities of the site and the area in which it is situated.
Appearance – what the finished buildings and spaces will look like and how this will enhance or protect the local area.
In addition a design and access statement must demonstrate the steps taken to appraise the context of the development (i.e. the local physical, economic and social context) and how the design of the development takes that context into account in relation to its proposed use and each of the aspects above.
Where an application for listed building consent is involved, the design component of a statement should also include an explanation of how the design principles and concepts of scale, layout and appearance have taken account of relevant national policy set out in Planning Policy Statement 5, Planning and the Historic Environment and in particular: -
1. The special architectural or historic importance of the building;
2. The particular physical features of the building that justify its designation as a listed building; and
3. The buildings setting.
The statement should also-
(a) explain the policy adopted as to access, including what alternative means of access have been considered, and how policies relating to access in relevant Development Plan documents have been taken into account;
(b) explain how the policy as to access takes account of-
(i) the special architectural or historic importance of the building;
(ii) the particular physical features of the building that justify its designation as a listed building; and
(iii) the building’s setting;
(c) state what, if any, consultation has been undertaken and what account has been taken of the outcome of any such consultation
(d) explain how any specific issues which might affect access to the building have been addressed; and
(e) explain how features which ensure access to the building will be maintained.