New local design guide for housing development to be piloted

Dacorum is one of 14 councils across England given £50,000 each to develop new design codes as part of a nationwide testing programme.

The new design codes will set out design principles for new development in Dacorum and will be expected to enhance the character of the local area and ensure future design quality – meaning developments are beautiful, well designed and locally led.

During the six-month pilot, the team will use the National Model Design Code (NMDC) to consider new developments’ design principles, such as street character, building type and facade as well as environmental, heritage and wellbeing factors. The pilot aims to help Britain to Build Back Better, by making sure current and new residents alike benefit from beautiful homes in well-designed neighbourhoods. They will be engaging with the local community during this process, giving local residents and businesses a chance to have a say about key design principals that could form the final code.

The measures mean the word “beauty” will be prioritised in planning rules for the first time since the British planning system was first created in 1947. The Government recently consulted on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to take this forward, alongside the draft NMDC.

Cllr Alan Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Infrastructure at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “Irrespective of the arguments over the amount of new housing to be built in Dacorum over the next decade and beyond, we know there will be new development in the borough. Being part of this pilot will ensure that the character and beauty of Dacorum is retained and that our borough continues to be somewhere people can live happy, healthy and sustainable lives. It’s also a great opportunity for residents to have their say in the layout, design and appearance of buildings in their area.”

They will be consulting on its proposals for a case study in Hemel Hempstead Town Centre in the coming weeks aiming to complete the pilot project by winter 2021.


Funding boost to help digital transformation of planning process

Dacorum Borough Council, along with 10 other councils, has been awarded a share of a £1.1 million Government grant fund to implement the use of digital tools in the planning process.

The new system will use the latest technology through online maps and data to make planning proposals more accessible and interactive.

Housing Minister Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP made the announcement on Tuesday (2 June 2021) following on from the Planning for the future White Paper published in August 2020, which proposed reforms to the planning system to streamline and modernise the planning process. The programme will look at the digital transformation of local plans to increase community involvement and speed up the planning process.

DBC will test how its existing Local Plan translates into the new system. This will involve moving away from long text documents to interactive mapping with clear information available on the type and content of development that will be supported in areas across Dacorum.

The new tools will enable council planners to understand the impact of proposed land designations and implications on land allocated for development and to use this to inform a wide range of planning policies.

Community engagement will continue to play a key role to ensure that the voices of the community are heard in the planning system. In the new system, digital tools will be key for making planning proposals more accessible and interactive, supporting the ambition for more effective community engagement.

Cllr Alan Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Infrastructure at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “We are excited to have been chosen for this programme to introduce a digital system using map-based, accessible, online information that will make it easier for people to engage with planning in their local area. We know from our recent Local Plan consultation that residents are extremely keen, and able, to engage with the planning process online and we want to build on this foundation to ensure we develop the homes and infrastructure our community needs in the future.”

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