Design South East has been commissioned by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to carry out a short research project to provide a working definition of the term ‘provably popular’ design and gather examples of how local authorities can best measure and demonstrate popular design in their local areas. This research project has been commissioned in accordance with recommendations made by the Advisory Board to the Office for Place (OfP) and the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission report, which set out guidance on how Government could improve design quality across England. The term ‘provably popular design’ has become enshrined in policy through the National Model Design Guide, with local authorities required to produce area-wide design codes in collaboration with local communities in order to deliver ‘provably popular’ design.

We are pleased to have been appointed to deliver this piece of research, drawing on the previous research experience of team members Dr Helen Goodwin and Kieran Toms and DSE expert network member Dr Gillian Horn, who are jointly leading this project. An online survey and series of roundtable workshops have explored the thoughts and experiences of a broad and geographically diverse range of stakeholders from across the industry as well as local people who have engaged in projects in their local areas.

The findings are informing the challenging task of defining the term ‘provably popular design’. Findings and insights will be shared once the research project and report have been completed.