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Tell me more is a project part funded by the Government. 

In February 2021, the Government’s Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced an open call to councils across England to test the new National Model Design Code.

Buckinghamshire Council submitted a bid and we were delighted to be successful.

A key part of our bid was to find better ways to listen to local residents and stakeholders and understand what they think about the design of existing streets, public spaces, buildings as well as spaces for water and nature. is a new way of allowing us to listen to people and we are interested to hear what local residents and stakeholders have to say.

Purpose of the project

The purpose of this project is to create a Design Code for Buckinghamshire.

Design Code

A Design Code is a document that contains design rules for new developments.

Rules will cover the design of streets, public spaces and buildings as well as the spaces created for water and nature. Spaces can be either public (such as parks) or private (such as back gardens or wildlife habitats with no public access).

The Highway Code is a set of rules that many people will be familiar with.

The Highway Code sets out clear rules for road users and explains where and when rules apply. The Highway Code is clear, short and easy to understand, with images and words explaining what the rules are.

The Design Code for Buckinghamshire will set rules that developers will need to follow.

How this project has been funded

Buckinghamshire Council has been awarded £50,000 by the government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The Council is providing additional top up-funding.

Why Buckinghamshire was chosen

Buckinghamshire Council responded to an open call from the Government to all local planning authorities in England.

The purpose of the open call was to support local planning authorities that wanted to create their own local Design Codes rather than rely on the National Model Design Code

If a local planning authority does not create its own Design Code, the National Planning Policy Framework requires them to use the National Model Design Code in deciding whether to approve planning applications.

Buckinghamshire Council submitted an application and was delighted to be selected as one of just 14 councils to secure a £50,000 grant.

Our application to the government

Click here to review our application to the Government.

Our application explains in more detail what we are doing, why we are doing this and how we are doing this.

If you wish to find out more, you may be interested to read the 'Planning White Paper' which set out the government’s thinking behind the use of Design Codes.

Contents of the Buckinghamshire wide Design Code

This is something we gave a great deal of thought to when we prepared our application to the government.

Some design rules will apply to the whole of Buckinghamshire, such as the need to create streets that are safer, easier and more attractive to walk and cycle along. We are required to do this following the publication of a number of government policies and guidance documents, such as Manual for Streets, Gear Change and LTN 1/20.

Other design rules are more locally specific such as building materials and other features that are characteristic to certain places. One example is the Wychert walls in Haddenham.

During this first stage, we are focusing on creating the design rules that will apply across the whole of Buckinghamshire.

The Buckinghamshire Design Code will set out design rules that apply to everywhere from Amersham to Winslow. We expect it to provide clear design rules for:

  • Street design
  • Walking and cycling
  • Green spaces and trees
  • Spaces for water and nature.
  • Cycle storage.
  • Storage for waste and recycling containers.
  • E-car and e-cycle charging.
  • Car parking.
  • Safe streets and public spaces.

Once this project is complete we will test the Buckinghamshire Design Code. If the Design Code works well, we expect to create additional local Design Codes that will cover smaller areas such as a town or village. We don’t know exactly when we will start creating these local Design Codes. We will have a better idea once we finish the Buckinghamshire Design Code and have tested it.

Architectural styles in the Buckinghamshire Design Code

Buckinghamshire is a large and architecturally diverse area.

It’s not practical for the Buckinghamshire Design Code to cover all the architectural and landscape diversity we have. For this reason, the Buckinghamshire Design Code will cover design rules that will apply across the whole of Buckinghamshire.

If this project is successful, we expect to begin work on local Design Codes that will cover more local characteristics, such as building materials, styles and landscape.

It is expected that these local Design Codes will address matters such as locally distinctive architectural styles and when and how new development should respond to these.

Energy efficiency and climate change in the Buckinghamshire Design Code

Buckinghamshire Council is currently working on a Technical Advice Note to provide guidance to developers on how to respond to climate change in new developments. We expect the Technical Advice Note to set out the range of sustainable technologies that the Council will expect developers to incorporate into new developments. The Buckinghamshire Design Code will reflect this Technical Advice Note.

The National Model Design Code and Guidance Notes suggest how energy efficiency can be addressed in Design Codes.

Area covered by the Design Code

The Buckinghamshire Design Code will apply across the area administered by Buckinghamshire Council.

Buckinghamshire Council was formed in 2020 by combining Buckinghamshire County Council, Aylesbury Vale District Council, Chiltern and South Bucks District Council and Wycombe District Council.

Milton Keynes Council covers a northern part of the county of Buckinghamshire. The Buckinghamshire Design Code will not apply to areas administered by Milton Keynes Council.

Relationship between the Design Code and Local Plan

Buckinghamshire Council has started work on the new Local Plan for Buckinghamshire.

The purpose of a Local Plan is to set out strategic policies for where, when and how much development will take place within Buckinghamshire.

You can find out more about the new Buckinghamshire Local Plan here.

The Buckinghamshire Design Code will set out design rules for buildings, streets and spaces. The Design Code will be used along with the new Local Plan to decide whether planning applications should be approved by the Council.

Using the Buckinghamshire Design Code

Once we’ve completed the Buckinghamshire Design Code we will test it. We may have to make some changes once we’ve completed this testing. If this testing is successful the Council expects to schedule formal public consultation. Once this public consultation process is complete the Council will then consider formally adopting the Design Code. An adopted Design Code can then be used to help the Council to decide whether planning applications should be approved.

One of just 14 pilot projects nationally

The government wants local planning authorities across England to either use the National Model Design Code or their own Design Codes to help decide whether planning applications should be approved. This is because the government wants to see the design quality of new developments across England improve.

The use of Design Codes in this way is new. Buckinghamshire Council is just one of 14 councils nationally to receive money from the government to test Design Codes.

The government is taking a great deal of interest in this project so it is a good opportunity to have your say. If the Buckinghamshire Design Code works it could become a model for other councils across the country to follow.

How to get involved

Use your smartphone, tablet or computer to join in.

If you need more help, watch the instructional video below that will take you through step by step.

How to participate if you are blind or visually impaired

As part of this pilot project, we are testing the use of with those who are blind or visually impaired.

We are holding workshops for those who are blind or visually impaired. To find out more please contact us.

These workshops are being led by Dr. Dianne Dominique Theakstone. Dianne is an urban designer and inclusive design advisor. Dianne is registered blind.

The project team

This is a specialist and very challenging project.

Buckinghamshire Council does not have the skills or knowledge to create the Buckinghamshire Design Code. This is why councillors and Council officers are working with a team of external specialists to help us deliver this project.

You can read more about the project team in our application to the government.

Use of personal data

When you tag a location, we will ask for your name and email address. However, this will not be visible to anyone else who visits the website and will allow us to verify your comments if required. You will also be asked if you wish to receive updates about this project.

We will not use your name or email address (your personal data) for any other reason. We will also not pass your personal data to another organisation unless it is directly involved in this project. Please see the privacy and cookie policy to read more about how we will use and process your personal data.

Proposing land for future development

The allocation of sites for future development will be done through the new Local Plan. You can find out more about the Buckinghamshire Local Plan here.

Project stages

During the autumn we will use the website to gather and share thoughts about what makes a good quality place.

We will use this information alongside the National Model Design Code and Guidance Notes to help us to write effective design codes for the whole of Buckinghamshire which are based on real views from real people.

We plan to share the draft design code in the spring of 2022 and ask for feedback.

Once we’ve tested and consulted on the design code, we will be able to consider how best to use the code to guide new development within Buckinghamshire.

Future plans for the website

We are testing a new way to listen to our local communities with uses technology to reach people who may otherwise find it difficult to get involved in local planning matters. For many people it can be difficult to attend consultation events held at specific locations and times. has been designed and built to help you tell us what you think more easily, more quickly and at a time that suits you best.

Buckinghamshire Council has created this website with the support and expertise of a nationally recognised expert in what are called ‘digital engagement platforms for planning’. Digital engagement platforms are a type of website. This website has been created by Participatr and you can read more here.


Buckinghamshire Council welcomes any feedback you may wish to offer about this project. .

Reporting other issues

At the moment we are testing to help us produce the Buckinghamshire Design Code. To apply for or ask us a question about Council services, please visit our website.

If you need to tell us about other council services or report something, here are some useful links to help you.

Commenting on planning applications is not designed to allow people to comment on planning applications.

To comment on a planning application please go to:

By commenting on a planning application this way, your comments will be considered by the council.

Any comments submitted on about planning applications shall be removed and will not be considered as part of the decision making on planning applications.

Commenting on the new Local Plan is not designed to allow people to comment on the emerging new Local Plan. To find out more about the Local Plan please click here.

Any comments submitted on about the Local Plan shall be removed.

Project timeline
This timeline will be updated as the project progresses.

Getting involved

Early Autumn 2021


Late Autumn 2021


Winter 2021/2022

Formal consultation

Spring 2022

Completion of Design Code and adoption

Summer 2022


Autumn 2023

Once we’ve used the Buckinghamshire Design Code for 12 months, we will have a good understanding of how well it is working and whether anything needs to be adjusted.

At this stage, we will also make a decision on whether we will begin work on local Design Codes for individual towns, villages and any development sites that come forward through the new Local Plan. This will involve deciding where local Design Codes are required, when these will be produced, by whom and how these will be paid for.