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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: 19 August 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 creating 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


Your statement should include a written description of the proposal and follow advice in National Planning Practice Guidance. It should explain design thinking and address:

  • design principles and process
  • amount of development 
  • use 
  • layout, scale, or appearance 
  • heritage assets
  • sustainable design principles
  • landscaping - private and public spaces
  • access -  to ensure equal and convenient access to buildings or spaces, the public transport network and access for emergency services where relevant.

The statement should refer to relevant planning policies setting out how proposals will meet London Plan Policy D4 and D5, our City Plan Policy 38 and other relevant policies and guidance, including the National Design Guide

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

Photographs, maps and drawings are helpful to illustrate the points made. You should cross reference other relevant reports.

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 set out how the design has taken into account the special architectural and historic importance (significance) of the building. They should set out consideration given to inclusive design and access and any specific issues that arise because the building is listed.

If not covered by a separate heritage statement there should be a clearly identified section addressing heritage impacts in the design and access statement. Where a separate heritage statement has been provided you should cross reference and include a summary of the assessment within the design and access statement. 

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

Heritage statements

Our local validation requirements require a heritage statement with applications where a heritage asset or its setting is affected. This will include all applications for development or works to a listed building, development in conservation areas, registered parks and gardens and the Westminster World Heritage Site or development affecting their settings. There is a separate requirements for an archaeological assessment for development affecting Archaeological Priority Areas.

For less complex cases this may form a section within the Design and Access Statement. 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 and advice