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The North Northamptonshire Joint Planning and Delivery Unit want to improve the standard of design in developments being delivered in North Northamptonshire and ensure that only developments of the highest quality are delivered in the future. 

Good design is critical in ensuring that proposals create sustainable, connected, characterful and healthy places, which people will enjoy for years to come. Whilst we have seen improvements in design quality, many schemes are still failing to create the high quality places sought by the JCS.

Design Advice - Surgeries and Design Review

Successful placemaking requires a collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach ensuring that the right expertise is brought together to get the best out of the project, and that different specialists work together. To help enable this, we provide pre-application advice to the LPAs, and developers to help avoid the cost of poor design, and realise the full potential of proposals, creating high quality sustainable places to live, work, and enjoy.

We offer advice at all stages of the design process and for all scales of developments. It is strongly recommended that applicants utilise the pre-application services that are offered within North Northamptonshire via the 4 LPAs.


There are two complementary services:

Local Design Surgeries

These regular surgeries are to assess smaller schemes major (10+ homes/1000 sq m + commercial) or sensitive schemes, preferably at pre-application stage.

These surgeries use a development team approach within the 4 Local Planning Authorities, typically with representatives of the police, highways, urban design and other professionals, as required, and will assess schemes using the Northamptonshire Place Shaping Principles, Building for Life 12 for residential schemes and the draft SPD. They are held monthly.

Local Design Surgeries will frequently identify projects which should go to Design Review.

View Calendar for Dates

The East Midlands Design Review Service – OPUN

The Design Review Panel provides an independent and impartial process for evaluating the design quality and sustainability of development proposals in North Northamptonshire.

The panel offers advice across a variety of development types, scales and contexts, from single dwellings in the countryside to large-scale mixed-use urban extensions, and provides expertise in relation to architecture, landscape architecture and urban design, spatial planning and masterplanning, transport, sustainable building, the natural and historic built environment, and other sustainable development matters. This can be in the form of workshops, walk and talk meetings or formal reviews.

All significant projects should be referred to design review at an early stage.

Visit the OPUN Website

Both services are chargeable, and can be incorporated in the fees for pre-app advice, or for the Design Review Panel, can be procured direct.

Lessons learnt from Design Surgeries

Design Surgeries have been running for almost 10 years, and we drafted a list of top tips of the common pitfalls to avoid - Lessons Learnt

Design Policy

We are currently working on a Design SPD which seeks to inform developers and Development Management Officers on the measures that should be taken to ensure good design across North Northamptonshire taking forward national policy and the JCS.

It should be used to inform pre application discussions, the preparation of Design and Access Statements that accompany planning applications as well as the preparation of other mechanisms including urban design frameworks, design and other co-ordinating codes. The SPD identifies what information should be set out in Design & Access Statements to demonstrate how new developments meet the requirements of the JCS and SPD although these will not be required for all development. It seeks to identify local exemplars of best practice where possible.

Alongside the SPD, we have produced a summary checklist that lists the key questions, and the evidence base and documents/plans we will expect to be provided to support planning applications to demonstrate how new development meets the requirements of the JCS, and this SPD.

It is anticipated that the SPD will update the 2009 Sustainable Design draft.

Design and Delivery Network

We organise regular meetings, site visits and training opportunities to ensure that the 4 LPAs can share common issues, best practice and agree and identify ways forward.

Design Monitoring

We assess whether the design policies are being achieved through an Annual Review of Housing Design Quality, using Building for Life 12 as our assessment tool. This is written up each year in the Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) but we have also produced a number of longer assessments, with photo evidence to explain the assessment and so we can learn and improve design quality.

Building For Life 12 (BfL12)

We use BfL12 to determine the design quality of new residential development of ten homes or more.  The Council expects developments to perform positively against BfL12 (August 2016).  You can find the BfL12 publication below. We also talk about BfL12 in our Sustainable Design SPD and the draft Placeshaping SPD.  We encourage completed schemes to apply for Built for Life accreditation.

Building for Life 12

Building for Life