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Design and access statements

Requirements in the planning process.

  What is a Design and Access Statement?

  • Since August 2006, most planning applicants have been required to submit a design and access statement (referred to as DAS) with their applications for outline and full planning consent. This includes listed building consent.
  • A statement is also required for householder applications if the dwelling is situated in a designated area, such as a  conservation area.
  • The purpose of a design and access statement is to explain how the proposal has evolved, and its suitability for a particular site.
  • The Statement should demonstrate commitment to sustainable, inclusive and accessible design.
  • Hillingdon Council has requirements that differ from the national minimum.
  • The statement needs to be bespoke to the specific planning application and has to comply with the requirements in the Borough of Hillingdon.
  • It is therefore essential to provide any additional information for a particular scheme.
  • Not providing the required information may delay the application process or result in a refusal of planning permission.

What happens to my application if I do not submit a design and access statement in the prescribed format?

  • Section 327A of the 1990 Act specifies that applications not accompanied by a statement shall not be entertained. The application cannot be registered until the DAS has been received and accepted by the council.

Why use Design and Access Statements?

  • The statement provides an opportunity for the applicant to demonstrate their commitment to achieving integrated, safe and accessible design. The approach to inclusive access should be part of the overall design approach.
  • The design and access components should therefore be viewed as composite, and not separate parts.
  • The DAS should demonstrate:
    • how the specific opportunities and constraints of the site have been identified and evaluated
    • how the design of the proposed development has responded to its local context, including the wider landscape setting of the site
    • that the design has carefully considered how everyone, including disabled people, older persons, teenagers and young children will be able to use it
    • what consultations have taken place, and how this has influenced the design

What aspects should a Design and Access Statement cover?

  • The level of detail to be provided in the statement will depend upon the scale and complexity of the proposal. As a minimum, planning applications require information on the following categories.

Use of buildings and open spaces

  • The use of all buildings and open spaces needs to be specified. You should also explain how the uses relate to the surrounding buildings and open spaces.

Amount of development

  • Details should include the number, type and use of proposed unit(s), including the quantity of floor space. In the case of residential developments, details should include the type of tenure and the ratio of people to number of bedrooms. Minimum Gross Internal Area (GIA) standards can be found in Accessible Hillingdon. Further guidance is provided in New Residential Layouts. Information should also include a justification that sets out the reasons why the proposed amount is appropriate for the site.

Layout

  • The application should include a description of how the building(s), public and private spaces will be arranged on the site, and linked.
  • The application drawings should show the layout on site such as buildings, routes, trees and other landscape features, (for outline applications an indicative layout is sufficient), and the rationale behind the approach.
  • For larger applications, particularly, consideration of features such as accessibility, sustainability and 'secure by design' is vital.

Scale

  • The rationale behind the scale, height, width and length of a building/s should be explained and justified in relation to scale and the surrounding context.
  • In addition, the scale of key components of the building/scheme can be very important.
  • The DAS should explain how the design considers the balance of key building elements, including features such as doors, windows and detailing.

Appearance

  • Details of all aspects of the development which will affect the visual impression, external built form, design approach, building materials, colour scheme and texture are vital aspects which should be covered in the statement.
  • The DAS should take into account how light levels at different times of the day will affect the appearance of the development, in addition to the effect seasonal changes in vegetation and variations in weather will impact on its visual appeal.

Note: Applications for listed building consent should follow similar lines. In this case, the special architectural and historic importance of the building, its features of note and its setting all need to be addressed.

Landscaping

  • The DAS should explain the design strategy and set out the landscape design objectives for all external spaces within the development.
  • The statement should ensure that a landscape appraisal identifies the site opportunities and constraints.
  • This should include a tree survey and arboricultural implications assessment: (to BS5837:2005) if appropriate.
  • The landscape objectives should be set out at an early stage of the design process to ensure that the landscape is an integral part of the site layout.
  • Appropriate expertise should be used to inform the design process.
  • The statement should consider how the external spaces will complement the character and image of the site and the surrounding area.
  • The landscape design should aim to support biodiversity and utilise sustainable design technology.
  • Good design should help to define private and public spaces.
  • Through the use of appropriate hard and soft detailing, the landscape should contribute to the function, appearance, enjoyment, accessibility and inclusion, safety, and visual interest of the external spaces.
  • Consideration should also be given to the retention of existing trees, the establishment of new planting and the long-term maintenance of landscape schemes to ensure that they remain attractive and appropriate to the building and their local context.

Access - both inclusive and emergency vehicular

  • The London Borough of Hillingdon is committed to achieving the highest standards of access and inclusion.
  • Inclusive design means not excluding individuals by reason of the physical design and layout of a development.
  • The access component should deal with both interior design and management procedures to demonstrate, not just compliance with Building Regulations, but how the applicant intends to meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010.

For minor planning applications

To include all new dwellings (up to 9 units), including conversions and flats. The statement should:

  • explain how the proposal complies with local development policies, eg 
  • explain how issues affecting public access to and within the proposed building or space, such as entrances, horizontal/vertical circulation, WC's, emergency escape provision are addressed
  • demonstrate how meeting the lifetime home standards and/or wheelchair home standards has influenced the design

Note: It is not acceptable to state simply that the development complies with the various standards.

For major planning applications

The purpose of the access statement is to outline how a project has been designed to deliver an accessible and inclusive environment for all to use.

The statement should:

  • explain the philosophy and approach to inclusive design, including how the design has come about and what it hopes to achieve.
  • list the sources of advice and technical guidance used, as well as consultation, eg with the Access Officer.
  • provide details of any professional advice - such as access audits or design appraisals.
  • give an explanation of specific issues which deviate from recognised sources of good practice, as well as possible solutions to resolve any remaining access issues.
  • give details of all management and maintenance practices necessary to ensure the accessibility of the building/space.

In the case of existing buildings, particularly listed buildings and those in a conservation area, the DAS will enable the applicant to identify the constraints imposed by the existing structure and to propose compensatory measures where full access proves to be impracticable or unreasonable.

The statement should specifically demonstrate how access and inclusion has been incorporated:

  • approaches to and around the site, including transport links
  • car-parking, setting down points, location of dropped kerbs (if required), and garaging
  • all entrances, including visibility
  • general horizontal/vertical circulation and layout arrangements
  • appropriate use of surface materials
  • facilities including WC provision within the building
  • wayfinding and signage
  • means of escape for those unable to use stairs

In addition, developers of residential developments will need to include details of how their scheme meets lifetime homes standards and the percentage requirement for wheelchair housing standards, details of these requirements can be obtained from  Accessible Hillingdon [10Mb].

Outline planning applications

  • An indication of where the access point(s) on the site will be located.
  • For housing schemes the applicant should be mindful of the Hillingdon DAS floor space guidelines New Residential Layouts to ensure that the proposed scheme can be accommodated within the site.
  • The applicant is strongly advised at this stage to consider the implications of the Equality Act 2010 when designing the scheme to ensure that the proposals and their management are in the spirit of the Act and mitigate against any challenges.

Frequently asked questions

  • Do I need to submit a DAS with my planning application for my house extension?
    •  No - not unless your house or curtilage of your house is in a 'designated area' such as a conservation area.
  •  Do I need to submit a DAS with my outline planning application?
    • Yes - but only the minimum amount of detail needs to be submitted at this stage.
  • What other exceptions are there?
    • A DAS does not need to be submitted for applications regarding:
    • material changes of use of land and buildings, (unless it also involves operational development, ie a physical alteration to the exterior of the property/site)
    • engineering or mining operations
    • householder developments, unless the property is located within a designated area such as a conservation area
    • advertisements
    • tree preservation orders
    • storage of hazardous waste
  • When do I have to submit a design and access statement with my planning application or application for listed building consent?
    • At the same time as the application forms, fees and plans are submitted to the council.

Want to know more?

For further information contact the Duty Planning Officer on 01895 250230.

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