Somerset is at the forefront of urban design, winning a national award for its creative, engaging and forward-thinking approach to complex planning issues.

The Somerset West and Taunton District wide Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document won the National Urban Design Award 2023 (Design Code category), beating off strong competition from nationally recognised planning and design consultancies.

The guide was adopted as planning policy by the former Somerset West and Taunton District Council in December 2021 and is used when determining planning applications and proposals for development in the West Area of the Council.

The Guide supports national policy which seeks to ensure that local planning authorities prepare design guides to provide a local framework for creating beautiful and distinctive places.

In awarding the accolade for an ”outstanding piece of work”, the Urban Design Group said:

The Guide is part of a unique suite of documents which address placemaking issues across the district and within Taunton Garden Town. The document addresses the comprehensive range of design issues and integrates design guidance with placemaking and sustainability.

The Districtwide Design Guide seeks to improve the quality of new development in support of adopted local plan policies. It aims to make sure that the significant level of development and housing growth needed in future is designed to create healthy, inclusive, and sustainable places for people to live.

The guide shows that the challenges of the climate emergency can be addressed through sustainable, energy efficient, low carbon, and climate resilient measures. High-quality design and creating places where people enjoy living also benefits health and well-being. It also attempts to show how principles of good practice in street design and layout can be incorporated into good placemaking.

Cllr Ros Wyke, Executive Lead Member for Economic Development, Planning and Assets, at Somerset Council, said:

It is so rewarding for all involved in the Design Guide to see their hard work acknowledged and applauded on the national stage.

The guide reflects our commitment to delivering housing growth and sets out the principles of place making and sustainability, and how these can be put into practice to produce resilient, healthy, safe and attractive places to live and work, with green spaces and green credentials.

Image of graphic from Design Guide highlighting design priorities

About this article

October 4, 2023

Debbie Rundle

Press Release