Designing for the planet

“Planning has a key role to play in responding to the climate and ecological emergencies. Every decision we make from now on has to consider the impact on climate, ecology, and what it means for all of us if the status quo continues.”
Spencer Powell, LDA Design

LDA Design has been appointed by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) to research the role of design codes in achieving net zero targets and promoting nature recovery.

Every development planned today needs to take a big step towards a zero carbon future and a healthier, more resilient ecosystem. Design codes set the rules for the design of new development, and now they need to specifically address climate, resource efficiency and ecology so they become a strong framework for users like council officers, applicants and the local community.

LDA Design will work with City Science and BSG Ecology to produce two design codes, based on fictional towns, to be used in conjunction with existing government guidance on design for site-specific and district-wide development. Findings will be published in autumn 2021. The project is being conducted in partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The research comes as the UK government is undertaking an overhaul of the planning system in England, part of which involves shifting to a zonal planning system with areas designated for growth, renewal or protection. The project will build upon the National Design Guide, and the National Model Design Code which was published this summer.

LDA Design’s Spencer Powell said that in a zonal system, design codes that are fit for purpose can provide more certainty for communities. “They can lock-in the big moves needed to get society onto a more sustainable footing. We will be looking hard at how this can be done, and that will include identifying all the data challenges ahead.”

The appointment follows a successful partnership with the RTPI, City Science and Vectos, which looked at how spatial planning can deliver net-zero transport.

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