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Design in the Countryside and Village Design Statements

Countryside Character

The fascination of the English Countryside lies in its vast diversity from moors and mountains, woodlands and wastelands, green fields, arable plains, lakes and rivers. All the countryside agencies, the Countryside Commission, English Nature and English Heritage are concerned with conserving the character and diversity of this English countryside.

In recent years the emphasis has been on identifying and defining the essential character of the countryside outside the protected areas of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. By doing this, it is hoped to strengthen the powers of the local authorities in determining new development proposals.

The Countryside Character Programme, promoted by the Countryside Commission and English Nature, has concentrated on analysing the character of the English Landscape, noting the differences that have taken place and identifying management opportunities to conserve and enhance its character.

The next phase of this Programme is to examine the local distinctiveness of the built environment by looking closely at each settlement and drawing up a document which records the unique characteristics of that place. In this phase, each village community is invited to participate in the production of a Village Design Statement.

What is a Village Design Statement?

A village design statement is intended to lay down guidelines for the local planning authority and thereby to give the planners assistance when determining applications for new houses and developments in the countryside.

How do you set about putting together a Village Design Statement?

A Village Design Statement Group may be established, probably through interest expressed by the Parish Council but ultimately becoming an independent Group. This Group will undertake to draw up a simple questionnaire for circulation among all residents.

The Statement

This is divided into sections as appropriate and may comprise:

  • introduction
  • a look at the village and community in its present context
  • routes through the village, traffic problems and the availability of public transport
  • the provision of social amenities and playing fields
  • the character of the landscape setting and the surrounding agricultural pattern
  • the history and pattern of the settlement
  • local architecture and building styles


The Statement will include recommendations on:

  • building and renovation guidelines which stress the importance of local materials and style
  • the retention of front elevations
  • the use of redundant buildings
  • highways with notes on speed limit, traffic calming and safety
  • street furniture of a style and material appropriate to the local setting

What happens to the Statement when we have finished?

A draft copy of the findings will be circulated for further comment among villagers before being forwarded to the local planning authority for final approval.

When the local planning authority has confirmed its acceptance, the document will be professionally designed and printed with copies being delivered to the council for their usage and distributed throughout the village and other interested parties.

A Village Design Statement will go a long way towards ensuring that future development in the village will reflect its present nature and identity.

Sancton Village Design Statement

Sancton is a small village 2 miles south of Market Weighton on the A1034.

It is the first village in the East Riding to produce a Village Design Statement in conjunction with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The Village Design Statement Group was set up independently but with the support of the Parish Council.