Village design statements


The draft Planning Policy Statement 7 on the countryside, which the Office of the Deputy Prime Ministeris currently consulting on, advises local planning authorities to prepare positive policies on rural design, utilising tools such as Countryside Character, Village Plans and Village Design Statements prepared by local communities. These policies should guide developers towards good quality design, appropriate to its location.


These projects combine historical information with appraisal of the character of a place. This combination can be used to recommend conservation and improvements to an area and may be adopted by the local planning authority as Supplementary Planning Guidance. They can be very powerful documents. They can include the views of current residents on matters of conservation and enhancement of the settlement. 


A Village Design Statement should only select the historical evidence that has left a mark on the village or parish. A visit by royalty in the sixteenth century would be jettisoned from the report (unless, say, a house was built specially for their visit) in favour of, for instance, the abandonment of parts of the village in the medieval period as it is the latter that will have helped to shape the village that survives today.  


It will analyse the layout of the settlement, the prominent building materials and styles, the scale of the spaces within the settlement (sometimes conversely known as enclosures), any special features of the settlement such as stone garden walling, wide verges and so on. Once the character of a settlement has been defined, it is possible to set out recommendations for any future developments that will have to fit in with that character. There is more advice on the Countryside Agency’s website about Village Design Statements. 


For villages in the Chilterns there is also the Chiltern Design Guide which is available from Wycombe District Council. A successful Village Design Statement would aim to give more detailed and specific guidance on the local vernacular building styles to complement district design guides. 

Conservation Officers

A Village Design Statement is similar to the Character Appraisals that the District Councils do for Conservation Areas, except that the former cover a whole settlement and the latter smaller areas within a settlement. The Character Appraisal of your local Conservation Area may be a good place to start, so do contact your District Conservation Officer for the latest copy.

  • For Aylesbury Vale District Council Conservation Officers, ring 01296 585748.
  • For Wycombe District Council Conservation Officers, ring 01494 421578.
  • For Chiltern District Council Principal Planning Officer, ring 01494 732269.
  • For South Bucks District Council Conservation Officers, email

Click here for more information on the related projects of village appraisals and parish plans.


Click here to go to some examples of village design statements in Buckinghamshire.


Click here for more heritage resources.