Emerging Borough Character and Design Study SPD

The Borough Character & Context Study and Design Code SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) is an update to our existing 2014 Urban Context and Character Study. It updates the character assessment and will also propose design codes for the borough. This updated study will play a crucial role in shaping future development to ensure that it responds positively to our borough’s character and is of high-quality design. 

It is proposed that the emerging Borough Character & Context Study and Design Code SPD will be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document and will be formally consulted on in Autumn 2021. 


Design coding is one tool available to local planning authorities, communities and developers to define and deliver design quality. It is a set of design requirements that provide detailed parameters for the physical development of an area. The Borough Character and Design Study will be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), which will be a material consideration in decision making on planning applications. 

The New London Plan emphasises the use of design codes: Policy D4 states that design codes should be used to help bring forward development and ensure it delivers high quality design and placemaking. 

The need for area-wide design assessments is currently set out in the NPPF. Furthermore, design codes are set to become a statutory requirement as stated in the proposed changes to the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework). Paragraph 124 of the NPPF emphasises the role that area-based character assessments, codes and masterplans can play in helping to ensure that land is used effectively while also creating beautiful and sustainable places and Paragraph 172 emphasises that all local planning authorities should prepare design guides or codes consistent with the principles set out in the National Design Guide and National Model Design Code (NMDC), which reflect local character and design preferences.  


The Borough Character and Design Study SPD aims to improve design quality across the borough through: 

  • Updating the character assessment to provide an up to date understanding of built and socio-economic character;
  • Updating the character area boundaries to form an understanding of local character and to underpin area-based design code recommendations;
  • Proposing area-based recommendations to guide the transformation, enhancement and conservation of each of the character areas;
  • Developing design codes that ensure the delivery of the area-based recommendations and high quality & characterful design in development.

Progress to Date

We undertook an initial engagement survey entitled “Tell us about your Neighbourhood” in January and February 2021. The survey sought feedback from residents and people who work in the borough about their local areas, asking for feedback what makes the area special, what is liked and disliked and the activities that are undertaken in different parts of the borough. This was in order to provide an understanding about what contributes to an area’s special character and how future improvements can enhance the design quality and character. The survey also sought feedback on character area boundaries. The survey gathered around 750 responses. A summary of responses will be provided in the final report.

On 3 March 2021 we held an informal engagement workshop with residents, where presentations were given by Allies and Morrison on proposed character area boundaries and on opportunities to enhance character in each neighbourhood. A video of the workshop can be viewed here and the presentation here. Please note that the presentation is a work in progress and will be updated in the final report.  

On 12 May 2021 a 2nd informal engagement workshop was held with residents to gather feedback on proposed area design codes, propose alternative codes and come up with new codes that shape the future of neighbourhoods. A video of the workshop can be viewed here and the presentation here. Please note that the presentation is a work in progress and will be updated in the final report.  

Further online engagement workshops were held with residents in Feltham (23rd July 2021), Brentford (3rd August 2021) and Chiswick (3rd August 2021) to gather feedback on aspirations for specifc sites to shape design codes.

Next Steps

We have put together an informative video to explain what design codes are, what they aim to do and how you can get involved: https://vimeo.com/539853481

We will then formally consult on the draft document in early 2022 before its adoption as an SPD.

Contact Us

Please email the Spatial Planning Team at ldf@hounslow.gov.uk or call on 020 8583 3419 quoting “Character and Design Code Study"

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