Village design statements

A Village or Town Design Statement (VDS) is a practical tool to help influence decisions on design and development.  Prepared correctly, a VDS will provide a clear statement of the character of a particular village or town against which planning applications may be assessed.  It is not about whether development should take place (this is one of the purposes of the borough's Local Plan), but about how development should be carried out to respect the local identity.

An effective VDS:

  • is developed, researched, written, and edited by local people
  • is representative of the views of the village as a whole and has involved a wide section of the village community in its production
  • describes the visual character of the village and demonstrates how local character and distinctiveness can be protected and enhanced in new development
  • is compatible with the statutory planning system and is suitable for approval by the council as supporting its Local Plan
  • is applicable to all forms and scale of development
  • is about managing change in the village, not preventing it
Local people in villages and small towns are well placed to identify local character and distinctiveness, described in terms of the landscape setting of the village, the pattern and shape of the settlement, and the nature of buildings, spaces, landmarks and special features.

The borough's Local Plan Review gives explicit support to community engagement in preparing a VDS, and contains policy E1, which states that all development must be in keeping with the local character.  If the VDS is adopted by the council it can become a material consideration when determining planning applications.

Every village and small town should consider the benefits of preparing a VDS and any group may promote a VDS.  The parish council need not necessarily take the lead role, but is often best placed to do so and is an established channel for grant aid that the council can provide.

A VDS will involve a lot of work, organisation and commitment.  Experience across the borough suggests that at least 12 and usually 24 months are needed to produce an effective document.

You can download the adopted VDS documents from across the borough below.  The date of adoption by the council is including in the document name.

Contact: John Dawson
Telephone: 01256 844844