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Competition: National Model Design Code

Goldsmith street by mikhail riches with cathy hawley 2
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The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is seeking a consultant to create a design code for new development across the UK

The team selected for the estimated £55,000-to-£85,000 contract will ‘scope and develop’ a new National Model Design Code featuring detailed illustrations providing specific guidance to developers and planners on delivering high-quality and site-specific architecture.

The search for a design team follows the publishing of a revised National Planning Policy Framework and National Design Guide setting out high-level best practice and the terms under which planners could refuse development which fails to improve the character or quality of an area. The completed code will aim to achieve a ‘greater consistency of design quality’ across new development and will factor in findings from the recent Building Better Building Beautiful Commission report.

According to the brief: ‘MHCLG wishes to procure a consultant to help scope and develop the National Model Design Code, which will include illustrations to support design parameters. The National Model Design Code will be a template for local planning authorities and developers to use to create local design codes for site specific and area wide application.

‘The objective for the National Model Design Code is to ensure that a greater consistency of design quality is delivered, through preparation, application and enforcement of local design code criteria applied by the private sector on new development, and by planning authorities. This will help to ensure that principles for the design of places and buildings are more specific, drawing on established principles of good urban design and local character.’

MHCLG was given an explicit remit for housing in its title in January 2018. The government’s Fixing our Broken Housing Market white paper set out plans to boost both quality and supply.

The 2017 white paper set out plans to boost supply by ensuring councils held up-to-date housing plans, granting new powers to pressure developers to build-out permissions, and investing £3 billion in off-site construction and smaller suppliers.

The government pledged to boost the supply of new dwellings to 300,000 per year by the mid-2020s, however last year only 241,000 were completed – falling short of the estimated 250,000 needed to ‘break even’.

A £12 billion multi-year extension to the government’s Affordable Homes Programme was announced in last week’s budget. According to homelessness charity Shelter, at least 3.1 million new social homes will be needed over the next two decades to address the UK’s existing deficit and meet anticipated demand.

The search for a team to create the design code comes just weeks after the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission unveiled its final report, calling for procurement reform and an end to the public sector ‘subsidising ugliness’.

The latest contract will run for six-to-seven months and covers the develop of a highly detailed and illustrated design code which will serve to update and enhance the existing National Design Guide published late last year.

The built environment design consultancy chosen for the commission may also be asked to produce a detailed example demonstrating how the National Model Design Code could be applied in the planning system to a typical large-scale development.

The deadline for applications is 2 April.

How to apply

View the contract notice for more information

Contact details

Michael Adu
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street

Email: michael.adu@communities.gov.uk

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