In August 2006 the legal requirement for Design & Access Statements, under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, came into force.

The requirement for a Statement will apply to the majority of planning applications for full and outline planning permission, and to applications for listed building consent, with few exceptions.

Existing projects that have already reached the Reserved Matters stage in the planning process, are not obligated to provide a D&A statement, however it would seem advisable that clients consider providing one as standard, to ease progress through the system. Clearly this new legal requirement will affect timescales for submitting planning applications and progression through the system.

The Design and Access Statement is a tool to explain and justify the design and access principles and concepts on which a development proposal is based, and how these will be reflected in individual aspects of the scheme. It should support other more detailed material submitted as part of the scheme. One statement should cover both design and access, allowing applicants to demonstrate an integrated approach that will deliver inclusive design and address a full range of access requirements throughout the design process.

The Design and Access Statement document is the output of this process, and must illustrate, through drawings, images and text, how the steps highlighted below, have been addressed:

Assessment - Demonstrate an understanding of the context of the site and its surroundings. Consider the Physical, Social, Economic and Planning Policy Context.

Involvement - Indicate whom you have consulted: Local Interest Groups, Local Residents, Advisory Bodies and Local Planning Authority.

Evaluation - Evaluate and analyse the information, identify constraints and opportunities, resolve issues and conflicts, identify initial options.

Design - Design the scheme based on the earlier stages of the process. The Design component of the statement must explain and justify the following elements of a development proposal:

Design Component

Response to Context

Demonstrate how the proposals respond to the physical, social, economic and planning policy context.

Explain and justify the scale of buildings proposed (height, width, and length), why the selected parameters have been chosen, and how they relate to their surroundings.


Explain and justify the amount of development proposed for each use, its distribution across the site, its relationship to it’s surroundings, and how accessibility is maximised.


Information relating to the location of buildings, routes and open spaces proposed. Explain and justify the principles behind the choice of locations of each use within the site.

The aspects of the place or building which determine the visual impression it makes. Explain and justify the principles behind the intended appearance. This should include consideration of architecture, external lighting, materials, decoration, colour, texture and detailing of the development.


Explain and justify the principles behind any future or proposed landscaping schemes. Address enhancement and protection, biodiversity, amenity, safety, appearance and sustainability.

Access Component

Equal Access

Explain and justify how all users of the buildings will have equal and convenient access to buildings and spaces and the public transport network in perpetuity.

Explain the approach to access and how policies relating to access in relevant LDDs have been taken into account. Also indicate the applicant’s policy and approach to access. Explain the principles which will inform the access arrangements at all scales from neighbourhood movement patterns where appropriate, to details of individual access points to buildings.

Indicate who has been consulted in relation to access for all, particularly the disabled. Describe how sources of advice on design and accessibility and technical issues will be and have been followed.

Emergency Access
Access for emergency services should be explained including circulation routes around the site.

Site Circumstances
Illustrate how any specific issues which might affect access to the development have been addressed.