New London Architecture

Mayor of London publishes new Design and Characterisation London Plan Guidance

Monday 21 August 2023

On Thursday 8 June, the GLA published their long-awaited suite of Design and Characterisation London Plan Guidance (LPG). The four new pieces of LPGs have been developed to support the delivery of high-quality homes and places across the city and are a useful guide for planning authorities, developers and local communities. They provide further guidance on the implementation of London Plan 2021 policies, including but not limited to:

  • Policy D1 (London’s form, character and capacity for growth)
  • Policy D3 (Optimising site capacity through the design-led approach)
  • Policy D6 (Housing quality and standards)
  • Policy D9 (Tall buildings) 
  • Policy H2 (Small sites) among others

The LPGs provide guidance that is relevant to both plan-making and planning applications, and are as follows:

Plan-making
  • Characterisation and Growth Strategy LPG
  • Small Site Design Codes LPG
  • Optimising Site Capacity: A Design-led Approach LPG

Planning application
  • Housing Design Standards LPG

To help understand more about these LPGs, we provide a summary of each below.

Characterisation and Growth Strategy LPG

Provides further guidance to support planning authorities in implementing borough-wide character assessments and a plan for growth (Policy D1). It replaces the Character and Context supplementary planning guidance that was first published in June 2014, and it helpfully sets out a process to identify the appropriate level of change for different parts of a borough or neighbourhood and how that change and growth fits with existing development and what that future change and growth should look like.

 The LPG sets out a three-part process in which planning authorities should undertake a character survey and analysis; carry out an evaluation of that character; and lastly, devise a growth strategy. The LPG also provides guidance on setting a ‘tall building’ definition, and how to determine locations where tall buildings may (and may not) be appropriate (Policy D9).
Characterisation and Growth Strategy LPG

Small Site Design Codes LPG

Aims to support planning authorities to meet the requirements of and implement London Plan Policy H2 (Small Sites). This guidance is useful for planning authorities, local communities and developers. It provides a process for practitioners to follow in order to develop area-wide design codes for small sites. These are sites that are predominantly below 0.25 hectares in size.

Area-wide or type-based design codes seek to provide clarity on what is likely to be acceptable and what may cause identifiable harm if permission was granted for different contexts. Like other forms of design codes, small site design codes should be in the form of a set of simple, concise, illustrated design requirements that set the key design parameters.

Small Site Design Codes LPG

Optimising Site Capacity: A Design-led Approach LPG

This LPG aims to support both planning authorities and applicants meet the requirements of and implement London Plan Policy D3 (Optimising site capacity through the design-led approach). It does this through the setting of high-level design parameters that clarify the aspirations and design considerations for a site. The LPG sets out a process to determine the indicative site capacity for residential sites. The LPG includes an Indicative Site Capacity Toolkit that can be used to model the design parameters and determine an appropriate site capacity. This guidance is useful for planning authorities, local communities and developers.

View the Optimising Site Capacity: A Design-led Approach LPG
Optimising Site Capacity: A Design-led Approach LPG

Housing Design Standards LPG

Developed to support planning authorities and applicants to meet London Plan Policy D6 (Housing quality and standards) and other relevant policies by bringing all London Plan requirements for housing design together into one place. Given the inevitable tensions and compromises that arise between different design elements during the design process, consolidating the different considerations in tables with links back to the source policy, will help optimise design quality and the balancing of different policies throughout the design process. These are applicable to all self-contained residential planning applications (Use Class C3) and across tenures (including build-to-rent and specialist older persons’ housing). The approach is aligned with the design process, starting with considerations of the wider site and moving to detailed internal aspects to help design teams develop high quality residential developments. The LPG also sets out a new voluntary ‘Best Practice Space Standard’ which will seek to recognise developments that go beyond the minimum space standard. It also helpfully sets out a dual aspect definition which should provide clarity about which homes are dual aspect or not.

View the Housing Design Standards LPG

For any queries about the LPGs, the London Plan team can be contacted via londonplan@london.gov.uk.
Housing Design Standards LPG


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