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Landscape-led Design

Landscape-led Design

We will use open and accessible language and illustrations to maximise the understanding and value of good design in the National Park. Good design outcomes will contribute to a better quality of life for people and their communities, whilst protecting and improving our environment and our land-based businesses.

Adopting a landscape-led approach to design (good contextual design) gives applicants and designers certainty during the early stages of the planning process, roots their development proposals in their location, improves design quality and should reduce time and costs. Working together, we can achieve more. We can create exemplary designs that reconnect us with nature and that lead the way in producing beautiful places and beautiful buildings, not just in the National Park, but also beyond our Park boundaries.


  1. To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage of the area
  2. To improve design quality by providing clear + consistent guidance on design process, submission requirements, and to provide timely support when it is required; encouraging applicants and their design teams to participate in pre-application and to engage with our Design Review Panel
  3. To use accessible language and visualisations to overcome communication barriers; we will encourage the use of clearer language to describe design principles, alongside the greater use of imagery.

Our landscape-led approach to design…

  • Reflects national and local policy.
  • Sets out the design process and submission requirements.
  • Emphasises the need for development design which speaks of its place.
  • Identifies, protects, and improves Green Infrastructure.
  • Sets out ambitious but deliverable expectations for architectural and landscape design.
  • Set outs progressive but achievable target metrics for energy use, to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Landscape-led design does not…

  • Disregard national guidance, legislation, and local design policy.
  • Complicate the design process or create needless work for applicants.
  • Hamper creative or innovative design.
  • Allow ‘anywhere’ design outcomes which do not speak of the site and the wider National Park

What is Landscape-led design in the National Park? – download (4 pages)

Watch the video below to find out more about landscape-led design in the South Downs National Park.


"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."