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Urban design information and advice

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council is committed to ensuring that new developments make the most of the opportunities available, whilst protecting and enhancing existing environments.

Good design is central to delivering high quality sustainable places which the current population and future generations of Rhondda Cynon Taf can be proud of.

Good design is more than just how places look, it also takes into account how places ‘work’ - such as the mixture of uses and the way in which people move around an area. It is also not just about buildings - the spaces between buildings such as streets and spaces (often called the ‘public realm’) are equally important.

The Council aims to raise standards of design across the County Borough through:

  • provision of pre-application design advice on potential development proposals
  • design review and negotiation of development proposals
  • provision of design advice for Council projects
  • preparation of design guidance as part of the emerging Local Development Plan
  • provision of design training for Elected Members and Officers

Planning Policy Wales places responsibility for raising standards of design on all those involved in the development process and indicates that standards must be raised everywhere from the setting of a Listed Building to a new housing development.

Good design need not cost the earth and there are a number of benefits which can result, including:

  • regeneration
  • creation of new places where people will be proud to live and work
  • protection of existing places which we value
  • avoiding under use of land – creating more sustainable places
  • creation of more attractive places which are a better investment for householders and businesses
  • ensuring that new places do not all look the same and respecting/ reinterpreting local characteristics.

For further information you can consult the following:

Design and Access Statements

Guidance can be found in TAN12 (design)

Regeneration Strategies for Town Centres

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council has commissioned consultants to prepare regeneration strategies for the following town centres in the County Borough.

  • Ferndale Regeneration Strategy, 2006
  • Llantrisant Old Town Regeneration Strategy, 2005
  • Mountain Ash Town Centre Regeneration Study, 2002
  • Pontypridd Regeneration Strategy, 2005
  • Porth Town Centre Regeneration Strategy, 2003
  • Tonyrefail Town Centre Regeneration Strategy, 2006
  • Treorchy Town Centre Regeneration Strategy, 2003
  • Aberdare Town Centre Regeneration Strategy, (in Draft)

These documents identify the issues facing the areas and set out a range of potential development opportunities and key projects. They have been approved as Council policy to inform the emerging Local Development plan and therefore should be taken into account in preparing development proposals.

Planning Policy Wales

Planning Policy Wales sets out the overall strategy for development in Wales. Central to this are the concepts of sustainable development and quality of life which can be delivered through good design. Wales Spatial Plan

The Wales Spatial Plan sets out a 20 year framework for development. It is founded upon ‘Building Sustainable Communities’. Emphasis is placed on respecting local distinctiveness and good design.

A Model Design Guide for Wales: Residential Development

This residential development design guide has been written for the Planning Officers Society of Wales as a companion guide to TAN12 which addresses residential development at all scales.

A Model Design Guide for Wales: Householder Development

This householder development design guide has been written for the Planning Officers Society of Wales to help householders achieve good design in extensions, garages loft conversions etc. Emphasis is placed on understanding the area and discussing ideas with the Council and neighbours.


In September 2010 new requirements were introduced that require all new residential developments to meet sustainable building standards as part of the planning process. This is a key tool in the delivery of the Welsh Assembly Government’s zero carbon targets for new development. Planning Policy Wales sets out the standards to be met for most new developments. Applications for one or more dwellings must achieve level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Applications for non-residential development with a floor space of 1000 square metres or more, or that will be carried out on a site of 1 hectare or more, must meet the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) ‘very good’ standard and achieve the mandatory credits for ‘excellent’ under ENE1 – Reduction of CO2 Emissions . It is expected that the method for achieving these targets will be outlined in any accompanying Design and Access Statements submitted with planning applications.

Architecture Centre Network

The Architecture Centre Network (ACN) coordinates, supports and advances the work of architecture and related centres. ACN seek to secure greater knowledge, access, participation and influence, at all levels, in the creation of an excellent built environment for all.

Building for Life

Building for Life brings together the best designers and creative thinkers to champion quality design of new homes.


The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment champions well-designed buildings and public space in the UK. They work with Local Government, developers and the public to raise standards in design. This website contains an extensive range of useful downloadable design documents.


The Design Commission for Wales is a national organisation established and core funded by the National Assembly for Wales. The role of the DCFW is to champion high standards of architecture, landscape and urban design in Wales, promoting wider understanding of the importance of good quality in the built environment, supporting skill building, encouraging social inclusion and sustainable development.

Royal Society for Architects in Wales

The Royal Society of Architects in Wales (RSAW) is constituted as the regional organisation of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in Wales.


An independent, unbiased service, the Resource for Urban Design Information (RUDI) is the largest web resource dedicated to urban design and place making.

Urban Design Group

The Urban Design Group provides a forum for architectural, design, and urban planning firms to address urban design issues. Includes information on members and industry news.

Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013

Under the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, all proposed new developments and infrastructure schemes must now examine and consider incorporating features to assist walking and cycling journeys.