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What is a Design Code? 

They are a set of design requirements that set the expectations for design quality, and are created with local communities to develop a vision for new development in their area.

Every area of the UK is unique so they need to be approached individually. Designing with people and planet at the heart allows us to create places that people want to be and invest in – so good for the environment and great for business. The Codes support well-designed places by: 

  • Enhancing local character.
  • Supporting vibrant and healthy communities.
  • Addressing the climate emergency.

As part of the Programme, local authorities and communities alongside design experts created a variety of mixed-media learning materials to help people on their journey to creating their own Design Codes.

Learnings and materials

Road to Design Codes

Use this step-by-step interactive flow chart to create your own Code.

This tool offers a good starting place and was developed based on the stages of the National Model Design Code and helps to breakdown the complex coding process for teams of different scales and with different starting points.


Programme findings

Thinking of developing your own Design Code?

If you are looking to create your own Code you can use this presentation deck to bring your collaborators on board.

Whether you are a local community group, a councillor, development management or planner officer, or a highway authority this presentation has slides that can be uniquely tailored to you.

Download now

What's the history?

In 2022 the Design Council worked with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Office for Place (DLUHC), providing design advice and support to 25 selected pathfinders.

Made up of local authorities and neighbourhood planning groups they developed Design Codes to help raise the quality of the built environment in their local area.

They built on the experience of 16 previous participants who took part in the National Design Code Pilot Programme (NPFF) in 2021.