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Design and Access Statements

Some applications require submission of documents that explain the design thinking behind an application.

Published: 24 December 2020

Last updated: 21 April 2021

Applications that require Design and Access Statements

  • Planning permission for major development;
  • Planning permission for development in a conservation area or world heritage site consisting of the provision of one or more dwelling houses or the provision of a building(s) where the floor space created is 100 square metres or more;
  • Applications for Listed Building Consent.

Statements should include a written description of the proposal and a justification for the application that illustrates that the applicant has considered how everyone, including disabled people, older people and young children, will be able to use the places they want to build. 

Photographs, maps and drawings are helpful to further illustrate the points made.

They are a national validation requirement for certain types of application as set out in National Planning Practice Guidance.


  1. The statement needs to make reference to the relevant planning policies. Statements should provide a clear reason for any departures from policy.
  2.  The statement should address the following:
  • design process - explain the design principles and concepts
  • amount of development - how much will be built on site number of units/floor space
  • use - what buildings and spaces will be used for
  • layout - how the buildings, private/public spaces are to be arranged on site and their relationship
  • scale - how big the buildings and spaces will be in terms of their height/width/length
  • appearance - details of materials/architectural details
  • Impact on heritage assets- impact on significance of heritage assets and their setting
  • landscaping - treatment of private and public spaces hard and soft landscaping
  • access - to the development to ensure equal and convenient access to buildings/ spaces, the public transport network and access for emergency services where relevant.

For most straightforward applications, the statement will be short, whereas more complicated applications will require a detailed report.

See the National Design Guide for more advice.

If you fail to submit a Design and Access Statement your application will be treated as invalid and cannot be processed, which will delay your application.

Statements should also include

  • a brief explanation of how the design has taken into account the special architectural and historic importance (significance) of the building, the particular physical features that justify its' designation as a listed building and the building's setting
  • any specific issues that arise because the building is listed and if it is not possible to provide inclusive design, this needs to be expanded upon in the statement

This historic building impact assessment template provides a guide to our requirements: 

Heritage Statements

Our local validation requirements also require a heritage statement with all applications for Listed Building Consent and applications where a heritage asset or its setting is affected.

For less complex cases this may form a section within the Design and Access Statement in line with the above. Historic England have prepared advice on analysing heritage significance.


World Heritage Site

If your application has the potential to impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of Westminster World Heritage Site, in addition to your design and access statement, our local validations requirements require a Heritage Impact Assessment prepared in line with the ICOMOS HIA Guidance and as set out in our guidance on HIA.

Further Reading/Advice