Design and Access Statement

What are design and access statements?

Its basically a document that explains the design thinking behind a planning application.  It is now required for Listed Building Consent applications.  I can hear the groans and screams of anyone wanting to change a window or fireplace... I know - stupid.  But,  wally government in their attempts to make life more complicated, wants it - so we have to do the things.

It should show that you have thought about how everyone, including disabled people, kids, and the aged, will be able to use it.. Hmmm - maybe the new sash windows will have 'pensioner friendly' catches with locks to prevent the kids from climbing out of a third floor window...  Actually, it is more to do with history than pensioner proof catches....

Your statement needs to include a written description and justification of the planning application.  OK... so we are taking out a plastic pvc sash window, which is deteriorated by sunlight degrading the plastic, and doesnt look right for the old Georgian building - and replacing it with a wooden sash, which does look right.  You should include photos, drawings - in this instance, it might be a good idea to take a load of pics of grotty old plastic pvc sashes, happily defacing an otherwise lovely Georgian facade, and then show some pics of nice wooden ones in restored buildings, so the governing wallies can understand the need to remove and replace them.  I know - we all know they need to be replaced, and what with - but some poor little public servant would be out of a job if you didnt give wally something to read.

So - having made your point about replacing the windows, and given them hours of nice piccies to look at, you wrap up the statement with a description of the fittings and how they enhance the probability that your kids can't fall out of upstairs windows as they presumably have managed not to with the plastic ones anyway.  Aunt Dolly will be able to undo the catches with her arthritic fingers once she's been shown how the child proof lock works...

So in summary - we've shown wally what we are applying for and why - we've carefully explained and justified it, and we've made provision for it to be linked to any planning decision by conditions.  Wally often tells you that the application is approved - Conditional upon you doing something for his delectation - in this case, he wants you to submit a photo of Aunt Dolly actually smiling, having managed to undo one of the childproof, fireproof, draughtproof, and environmentally friendly catches you fitted on the window.

Wally government explains that: The statements should explain the design principles and concepts that have informed the development and how access issues have been dealt with.  It is intended as a check to see if the proposal is good enough to approve.  

The statement should address the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the scale, layout and appearance characteristics of a proposal.  

It must describe the historical and special architectural importance of the building (nothwithstanding the fact that Wally, in his infinitesimal wisdom, already has this - in the form of a Listing)

The particular features of the building that justify its designation as a listed building (Again Wally - its in the listing!)

... and the buildings setting  

The statement will need to explain your approach to ensuring that the historic and special architectural importance of the listed building is preserved or enhanced.  Where an aspect of the design has the potential to affect this adversely, the statement should explain why it is necessary, and what measures have been taken to minimise its impact.

You also need to consider any issues regarding accessibility for disabled people, and how that is restricted by any significant fabric that cant be altered.

So.. you can see that there is an element of sense to the thing, but if you are replacing a couple of windows, keep it short and sweet - we wouldnt want Wally falling asleep in his attempt to justify his salary by taking all day to read it...

The download link below is a rather larger than normal statement - BUT.... the Conservation Officer concerned was full of praise for the client, who wrote it himself, and the application sailed through with no problems - the application was approved without even a murmur.

Knowledge Base
Example Design and Access Statement to download

This is an actual example Access statement, which was praised by the Conservation Officer for its detail and accuracy.  The Listed Building Consent application sailed through the planning process and was approved first time without any queries - it was largely the quality of this document that ensured its success.

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