We welcome the announcement in February of the new National Model Design Code (NMDC), a key tool in the Government’s planning reforms for levelling up design quality across all new developments. Critical to its long-term success and the pivotal role it might play in future planning reforms will be meaningful community engagement and collaboration, sharing knowledge across sectors and disciplines, and between professionals and local communities.

The new codes will not in themselves guarantee consistent design quality, but they will provide clarity for developers on design standards and establish shared expectations that will have to be actively managed through the planning process to ensure that expectations are delivered.

Having worked to support local- as well as county-wide design quality management processes, Design South East has seen the benefit of facilitating positive dialogue and generating trust and confidence so that all voices can be heard.

The ability of local authorities to capture and reflect local views will ensure that national design codes are relevant and tailored to the needs and aspirations of local stakeholders.  Expressions of interest are now being sought from 10 local authorities (deadline February 22), with grant funding available to help test aspects of the NMDC’s process and content. The deadline is short, but this is a great opportunity to upskill. Design South East has long championed the value of design guidance and codes and has expertise in helping councils develop them. If you are interested in working with us on a pilot, please do get in touch.