A design and access (DAS) statement is a short report accompanying and supporting a planning application.
A DAS is required for many types of planning application – both full and outline - but there are exemptions. For example they are not required for householder applications (except in World Heritage Sites, conservation areas or requiring listed building consent) or applications for material change of use (unless it also involves operational development).
Page 28 of the Government guidance on information requirements and validation outlines the development types that don’t require a DAS.
A DAS should explain the design principles and concepts that have been applied to particular aspects of the proposal – these are the amount, layout, scale, landscaping and appearance of the development.
Design and access statements are documents that explain the design thinking behind a planning application. For example, they should show that the person applying for permission (the applicant) has thought carefully about how everyone, including disabled people, older people and very young children, will be able to use the places they want to build.
Demonstrating how the local context has influenced the design is also an important element. This should be discussed in relation to the scheme as a whole.
The requirement for the access component of the statement relates only to ‘access to the development’ and therefore should explain how the design ensures that all users will have equal and convenient access to it.
For most straightforward planning applications, the DAS may only need to be a page long, for more complex applications, more detail is likely to be necessary.
The Government has produced guidance on what a DAS should contain and its role in the decision-making process. Access the guidance.
The Government’s design adviser, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), has produced guidance on how to write, read and use design and access statements. This predates the new policy on DAS but still includes helpful information about the principles of DAS preparation – in particular the need to consider Design and Access issues at an early stage when preparing your development proposal. Access it here.