We want to ensure that the planning system creates more beautiful and sustainable buildings and places. We underlined this in the updates to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the publication of the National Model Design Code, published in July 2021. The NPPF asks all local councils to set design standards in design guides and codes that reflect local character and design preferences. The NPPF also requires that local councils take account of heritage assets and the desirability of new development making a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness, when determining planning applications.
In addition, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is seeking to strengthen the requirement for the use of local design codes so that clear rules are set locally about the design of new development. The delivery of sustainable development which protects and enhances our natural and built environment is, therefore, at the heart of the existing NPPF and underpins our ambitions for how the planning system – both national and local policy and decisions – are strengthened through the Bill and future updates to the NPPF. However, real progress is already being made through the Government's National Design Guide and National Model Design Code, which provides local councils with a toolkit to help them set standards that take account of local history, culture and heritage, based on effective community engagement. The National Model Design Code sets out the importance of respecting local history and character when planning for new development, as well as encouraging the use of materials that reflect the local character and identity. We are now working with a number of local authorities in the preparation of locally developed design codes through our Pathfinder programme and sharing the learning as they progress.