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Village Design Statement (VDS)

A new generation of rural design guidance

We've secured funding from central government to develop 6-8 Village Design Statements in collaboration with village communities.

The purpose of this funding is to raise the quality of new planned development and support inclusive, sustainable growth. It allows us to fund expert design consultants to work with communities in developing effective, forward-looking guidance.

The new Village Design Statements will be delivered in 2018-19 to be adopted as Supplementary Planning Documents.

We are now working with representatives from eight villages to help them create their own Village Design Statements. Read more in our recent news article on this part of our website.

Learning from best practice

A Village Design Statement (VDS) describes the distinctive character of the village and sets out guidelines for how this should be enhanced by new developments. It helps communities and planners shape the character of new development in your area, in response to community priorities.

Learning from the most successful approaches to village design guidance, our new VDS will be:

  • Concise and visually led
  • adopted as Supplementary Planning Documents - so they will be a significant consideration in determining planning applications and appeals
  • focused on the priorities of the village community, ensuring that the full diversity of community views are included.

A new Village Design Statement is:

  • a collaboration between your village community and us – you are not expected to do all the work yourself.
  • design focused – looking at  how buildings, streets, spaces  landscape and materials come together to create areas with distinctive identity and character.
  • a forward-looking document – aiming to make new development the best quality it can be, enhancing your village.
  • a way to provide more locally specific detail, which is consistent with other policies within our Local Plan.

A new Village Design Statement is not:

  • A way of proposing new development sites in your area. It is not a plan making document.
  • a means to stop new development – it is a tool to help assess how new planning applications can enhance the character of your area.
  • a neighbourhood plan or parish plan – it can be cross-referenced within one of those plans, but it will be a separate document adopted as SPD.
  • a conservation area appraisal or a heritage assessment. The quality of historic buildings may form part of the assessment of what makes your village distinctive, but the focus is on the character of the village now and in the future, not what has happened in the past.

Visual flow chart of our working process with you

We will submit the final document for adoption as an SPD, which will include a formal consultation process.

We will match you with a consultant team with expertise in community facilitation and development of design policy/guidance. At this stage, we anticipate that they will lead four workshops with your group:

  1. A workshop to map those characteristics of your village that make it distinctive and which you think should provide the cues for how new development should take shape
  2. a study tour to visit examples of new development in the wider area, to help you discuss what you think good design might look like, and learn lessons for your village.
  3. a workshop to develop guidelines for new development and how it should enhance the character of the village.
  4. a session for you to feedback on the draft Design Statement (circulated in advance) before finalising it to take it forward as a SPD for adoption.

This is a broad outline and will be adjusted to meet the priorities of your community and the time that your group members have available.

We would support other community-based activities; for example; involving schools and young people, informal exhibitions to gauge public views as appropriate.

The consultants will draw up all the maps and visual material for the document, based on the findings of the workshops.

They will write the policies, and working with us, ensure that these will be consistent with the Local Plan and will be effective in practice.

Download and complete your VDS expression of interest form.

Send in your expression of interest form to us stating how this funding would benefit your village by 23 July 2018. We expect one expression of interest to be submitted per village and it should have the support of the Parish Council.

As part of the expression of interest, you will need to nominate a project champion.

This does not need to be a parish councillor or other elected representative. It should be someone who is passionate about the design of your built environment, respects the varied views to be found in your community, and has enough free time to coordinate and work closely with us and our consultants.

Please get in touch if you would like to have an informal conversation to discuss what is involved, or if you have any queries about the expression of interest process.

Remember to submit your Expression of Interest by 23rd July 2018 to

Hana Loftus, 
Special Projects Officer
Consultancy Team
South Cambridgeshire District Council

m: 07811 385893

t: 01954 713310

You will need to form a group representing diverse voices from your village. This group should comprise 6-10 people and include:

  • At least one parish councillor
  • a spread of age, gender and ethnic backgrounds alongside other protected characteristics, reflecting the diversity of your village community
  • representatives from key organisations and interest groups within the village: for example a village society, local school, the agricultural sector, or business group.

We will help develop the planning and design skills of this group to ensure you are able to make the most of this process. We will support you to build consensus and will ensure that the final outcome represents your views fairly.

The group would need to commit approximately 4-5 days of their time over a five month period to be involved with site visits, workshops and review of the final document. We will aim to be flexible to accommodate meetings at the most convenient date/time and place to all involved.

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