§ The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. John Prescott)
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is today launching the design coding pilots programme. Kate Barker in her review of housing supply identified significant levels of undersupply, and a lack of certainty and speed in the planning process. This programme aims to test the use of design coding as a means to accelerate the delivery of housing while maintaining the high level of design content required to ensure that new development contributes fully towards improving the quality of our villages, towns and cities.
A design code is a set of specific rules or requirements to guide the physical development of a site or a place. The aim of design coding is to provide clarity as to what constitutes acceptable design quality, and thereby a level of certainty for developers and the local community alike, that can help to accelerate the delivery of good quality new development.
Operating over a number of different development circumstances, the pilots will be carefully monitored over the coming year and will provide the means to evaluate various models and approaches for developing, adopting and implementing design codes. Depending on the outcome, the review may inform the development of future planning policy.
The Government wish to test the potential for design coding as a means of delivering higher quality development at greater speed through the planning process. The development projects which they have chosen to monitor and evaluate in order to assess the effectiveness of the coding approach are subject to approval through the planning system in the normal way. It is possible that some of these projects may, at a later stage, be referred to the Secretary of State for decision (for example on whether an application should be called in for his own determination or on an appeal against the decision of a local planning authority).
For the avoidance of doubt, partners involved in the design coding exercise should understand that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is encouraging the use of 20WS coding on these sites without prejudice to any decisions the Secretary of State may be required to take through his formal role in the planning process. The fact that development is proposed in accordance with a design code does not imply that the Secretary of State is content for any particular development proposal to proceed. Any decisions which fall to be made will be taken having regard to the facts and merits of the case, taking into consideration all relevant matters.