Planning & Environment

What do you call a design and access statement without the access statement?… (answer)… a design statement! That’s what the Development Management Regulations tell us anyway. All well and good, but if the Regulations require a design and access statement (national and major developments) and the applicant has only provided a design statement, then that is a problem.

Various elements of planning reform, such as PAC, are commonly described as a tickbox exercise but from what I’ve seen of some design and access statements recently, the “access part” is not even getting a tick. Has anyone heard of a design and access statement being rejected by the planners as inadequate? Some authorities seem to be setting the bar pretty low. To be fair, it’s probably not the main area of focus for a planning officer when scrutinising a major application, but these are legal requirements at end of the day. Most authorities will have an access officer, and presumably his or her views will be sought. See for example Dundee City Council’s guidance note.

PAN 78 underscores the benefit of inclusive design, so there is a point to these provisions. But whatever the motivation, applicants should make sure that the specific requirements of the Regulations are met. Even if the planning authority is willing to accept something below par, the courts might not be.

Karen Hamilton

Partner at Brodies LLP
Karen is a partner at Brodies in the Transport and Real Estate sectors. She delivers results for clients by considering planning issues from all angles. Karen has significant experience of compulsory purchase in relation to both procedural and compensation issues.
Karen Hamilton

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