The council is committed to the concept of locally appropriate development being based on local character, and welcomes the production of Village Design Statements (VDS).

A Village or Town Design Statement (VDS) is a practical tool to help influence decisions on design and development. Prepared correctly, a VDS will provide a clear statement of the character of a particular village or town against which planning applications may be assessed. It is not about whether development should take place (this is one of the purposes of the district's Local Plan), but about how development should be undertaken so as to respect the local identity.

Why prepare a Village Design Statement?

A VDS can influence and improve the quality of development that takes place in your area, so that it is harmonious with its setting and makes a positive contribution to the local environment.

An effective VDS:

  • is developed, researched, written, and edited by local people;
  • is representative of the views of the village as a whole and has involved a wide section of the village community in its production;
  • describes the visual character of the village and demonstrates how local character and distinctiveness can be protected and enhanced in new development;
  • is compatible with the statutory planning system and is suitable for approval by the District Council as a material consideration in planning decisions;
  • is applicable to all forms and scale of development; and,
  • is about managing change in the village, not preventing it.

Local people in villages and small towns are well placed to identify local character and distinctiveness, described in terms of the landscape setting of the village, the pattern and shape of the settlement, and the nature of buildings, spaces, landmarks and special features. Every village and small town should consider the benefits of preparing a VDS and any group may promote a VDS. The Parish Council need not necessarily take the lead role, but is often best placed to do so.

However, a VDS will involve a lot of work, organisation and commitment. Experience across the Borough suggests that at least 12 and usually 24 months are needed to produce an effective document.

VDS Status

Originally VDS were adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance to the adopted local plan. However, under the current planning legislation the most appropriate way of dealing with VDS's is to adopt them, where acceptable, as material consideration in the determination of planning applications. Although not adopted as part of the Local Development Plan VDS documents remain part of our guidance for use by planning officers when determining planning applications. Planning Inspectors value VDS because they are produced by the local community. Most importantly the VDS guidance influences all members of the community making changes to buildings and spaces.

There are currently six Village Design Statements adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance.

  • Fernhurst - adopted in November 1999
  • Westbourne - adopted in April 2000
  • Loxwood - adopted in July 2003
  • West Itchenor - adopted in January 2004
  • Lurgashall - adopted in April 2004
  • Lodsworth - adopted in September 2004

Four have been approved by the former Executive Board, and its successor the Cabinet, as material considerations in the determination of planning applications.

  • West Wittering - July 2006
  • Sidlesham - July 2006
  • Kirdford - July 2011
  • Bosham - December 2011
  • West Itchenor 2nd Edition - December 2012

You can download the adopted VDS documents from across Chichester.