UDG Publication

Design & Access Statements Explained

Design and access statements are becoming the most important interface between local authorities and planning applicants. The quality of the statements and local authorities’ skill in using them will help to determine the quality of design. This makes it vital to raise standards of practice.

This guide explains what design and access statements are for, how to prepare them, and how to use them. It encourages good practice and innovation rather than prescribing a standardised tick-box approach. It states that design statements must be relevant and specific to the site in question and must not merely collate bland, generic commentary or regurgitate existing published guidance.

Get your copy of Design and Access Statements Explained today to master the methodologies and achieve best practice.

Edited by R. Cowan, Urban Design Skills
Price: £ 35.00 from Thomas Telford: www.thomastelford.com/books


This guide is for developers and local authority planners who want to achieve a high standard of development. It is essential for people who are submitting design and access statements, receiving, negotiating, being consulted, or providing local guidance on them. That includes developers and their agents, planners, urban designers, councillors, access groups and members of local communities.


A design and access statement is a written and illustrated report, accompanying a planning application. The statement shows how the applicant has analysed the site and its setting, and formulated and applied design principles to achieve good, inclusive design for buildings and public spaces; and how the developer or designer has consulted or will consult on the issues. The statement’s scope and level of detail are determined by the nature of the development, the site and its context. The statement has a specific job to do in explaining the background thinking that led to the planning proposal being drawn up. It is not just a description of the planning proposal.


Design statements are required by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Section 42(1) of that Act introduces an amendment to section 62 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, requiring the submission of a design statement; and section 42(5) prevents local planning authorities from entertaining an application which is not accompanied by a design statement – subject to some exceptions which are explained in the guide.


  • Ten pointers to good practice
  • Ten common defects of design statements

Part I: What is a design statement for?

  • Who this guide is for
  • The purpose of this guide
  • The requirement for design statements
  • What is a design statement?
  • Using design statements through building control approval and for managing buildings
  • When does a planning applicant have to submit a design statement?
  • The role of a design statement
  • Designing for inclusion
  • Design statements for full planning applications
  • Planning conditions
  • Raising standards of inclusive design
  • Why does this guide use the term ‘design statements’ and not ‘design statements’?
  • Government policy and guidance on design statements
  • Design statements for outline planning applications
  • Should design statements be required for applications for change of use or householder applications?
  • How does a design statement help local authorities, planning applicants and other stakeholders?

Part II: Writing a design statement

  • What is required for a design statement?
  • Site and context appraisal
  • Design principles
  • The design
  • Access and inclusive design
  • Community safety
  • Environmental design
  • What form should the design statement take?
  • Options

Part III: Design statements in context

  • Format of the document
  • Procedures for decision-making
  • Local authority procedures
  • Other types of statement
  • Environmental statements
  • Professional advice

Part IV: Checklist for preparing a design statement

  • Background
  • Policy summary
  • Site and context appraisal
  • Rationale
  • Design principles
  • Options
  • The design

ISBN: 9780727734402
Format: Paperbound
Publish Date: 17/04/2008
Publisher: Thomas Telford Ltd
Page Size: 297x210mm
Number of Pages: 80

Design & Access Statements Explained Publication Urban Design Group