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Essex Design Guide updated to reflect contemporary lifestyles

6 March 2018

The iconic Essex Design Guide (EDG) has been digitally revamped to provide contemporary socio economic, environmental, and best practice guidance to planners and those interested in the provision of new housing developments.


Originally created in 1973, for 45 years the EDG has pioneered local design, creating space for innovation and encouraging high-quality development. The aspiration for the 2018 EDG is to be a sole reference source for creating high-quality, sustainable developments, with the addition of new content on the themes of Active Design Principles, Ageing Population, Health and Wellbeing, Digital and Smart Technology, and Garden Communities.
Essex County Councillor Lesley Wagland OBE, Deputy Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning said: “The Essex Design Guide has evolved to be more than just architecture and buildings; it’s a fresh, contemporary look at how to create Place and build communities. It’s looking at how lifestyles have changed and how infrastructure and facilities need to respond to these changes.”
Produced by Place Services on behalf of the Essex Planning Officers Association (EPOA) the new Essex Design Guide has been produced collaboratively with the help and involvement of all Essex local authorities, representatives of house builders, the NHS, Police, Sport England and the Building Research Institute; this ensures the Guide is robust and respects varying priorities, concerns and design considerations.
Charles Johnston, Sport England Property Director said: “We want everyone to have the opportunity to lead more active, healthier lifestyles and design plays a vital role in enabling this. Addressing inactivity is a priority for Sport England and can be tackled by designing developments to make being active the everyday choice through the use of Active Design principles. These include such things as making it easier to walk or cycle to work, school or the shops, along safe well-lit well-signposted routes, and co-locating the services we need to access so we make one active journey rather than several journeys by car. We’re delighted to have been able to work closely with partners in Essex and see these principles embedded into the updated Essex Design Guide.”
The 2018 version of the Guide is available at and is an interactive web-based design tool; ensuring content can be refreshed and added in order to respond to the challenges and opportunities for Essex.
Graham Thomas, Chairman of EPOA and Head of Planning at Essex County Council said: “Essex is tasked with delivering 180,000 new homes, so we need a new design guide that is flexible and innovative. The Guide helps us articulate what good looks like – helping us provide quality development for the future. We need to be able to deliver good quality development and well balanced communities where people can live, work and enjoy”
Whilst the EDG remains relevant to its core user base of town planners, urban designers and developers, the online content and overarching socioeconomic themes are attractive to those who want to understand more about development. A section on Ageing Population articulates how slight adaptations in design can mean older people can live independently in their own home for longer; wayfinding clues and sensory stimulation aid those with dementia; multi-functional and flexible amenity spaces encourage residents to use the outside space.

Featuring case studies, updated policy, diagrams and local authority profiles, while maintaining sections on highways, drainage and landscapes, the Guide is a rich resource to help ensure the creation of high quality communities for people in Essex to live, work and enjoy.