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New guidance on developing project level design principles is published

Posted: 23rd May 2024

The National Infrastructure Commission’s Design Group has published guidance on developing and implementing design principles for major infrastructure projects.

Building on the Group’s high level design principles – climate, people, places and value – the new guidance sets out a structured process for applying tailored principles at every stage of a project life cycle.

The document includes case studies of ongoing projects which have adopted design principles from an early stage, including the Lower Thames Crossing, Tideway and Sizewell C.

The guidance recommends project leaders:

  • Make sure there is a genuine commitment from the most senior levels of the project to using a structured design process from the earliest stages
  • Put principles in place before taking any decisions – and once in place, ensure they become a key part of the governance framework, informing all decision making
  • Make sure that principles support the widest range of outcomes (not just operational functions) and that they are used to directly inform each design iteration
  • Keep revising the principles as new information comes to light and use them to manage an evolving project effectively.

The document lists issues which project leaders might consider including under each of the four design principles for national infrastructure, from climate resilience to how the scheme will work with local partners to unlock additional value beyond the site boundary.

The new guidance has been welcomed by the Infrastructure Projects Authority.

The UK government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, published in 2020, committed to embedding good design in all major infrastructure projects. The strategy requires all NSIPs to have board level design champions in place and to have regard to the Commission’s design principles.