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News & Insights

Our team of experts shine a spotlight on new legal developments, share their views on the impact of current affairs, and offer insights on issues that could impact you and your business.

| 1 minute read

The new national design code for property development refers to “beauty” for the first time in 74 years – a positive change for development?

The Government has published a new design code for residential and commercial property developments and the word ‘beauty’ has been introduced as a key parameter. The overall emphasis of the document is a shift towards ‘place-making’ and designing attractive places.

Recommendations in the code include lining all new streets with trees plus guidance on the height and style of buildings depending on whether the street is an ‘urban primary street’ or a ‘market town high street’. This comes alongside a checklist of principles such as considering the façade and functions of surrounding buildings and addressing environmental impact.

This is similar to approaches we have seen successfully implemented in the private sector; estates such as Grosvenor and Cadogan in London have put an emphasis on making areas appealing and on ‘place-making.’ You only have to sit on the tree-lined, Instagram hotspot Duke of York Square or wander round Belgravia's stunning rows of well-preserved townhouses to see this. Put simply; these areas are deliberately attractive so people want to be in and around them.

Councils will have to create their own guidelines, based on the new code. The Housing Secretary has said he hopes this will, “enable local people to set the rules for what developments in their area should look like, ensuring that they reflect and enhance their surroundings and preserve our local character and identity.” This means it is not yet entirely clear how local councils will translate the code into specific planning regulations.

However, given the success of similar approaches in the private sector and planned increased local involvement, we may see a popular change in the development of our towns and cities.

The new design code is available here: National Planning Policy Framework and National Model Design Code: consultation proposals - GOV.UK (

“Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP : 'We should aspire to pass on our heritage to our successors, not depleted but enhanced. In order to do that, we need to bring about a profound and lasting change in the buildings that we build'"


property, commercial property, residential property