What is a Village Design Statement?
2. Village Design Statements (VDS) were instigated in 1993, by the then Secretary of State for the Environment, as a means of involving local people in the evolution of their communities. A VDS is a document which seeks to "describe those qualities of the village valued by the local people" (Countryside Agency guidance booklet). It aims to identify "the landscape setting, the shape of the settlement and the nature of the buildings themselves".
3. The role of a VDS is not to prevent change but to influence its form, by reflecting the views and expectations of the village's residents. It is a means of enabling those who actually live in the community to have a say in future development. To that end, it includes "Guidelines" (highlighted here by a § symbol), which aim to ensure not only that Hilton remains "pretty" but that any changes to the fabric of the village preserve or enhance its distinctive character. A VDS is concerned not only with large development but also with works carried out by the Utility Services and Local Authorities, together with minor adjustments to homes, gardens, paths and hedges - all of which alter the character of a village.
Who is it for?
4. This VDS is addressed to anyone contemplating or involved in construction, or in the modification of existing properties, no matter how large or small, which will affect the village scene. It exists to help:
- Village Residents.
- The Local Planning Authority.
- The Parish Council.
- Builders, architects and designers.
- The Local Highway Authority.
- Utility Services (Gas/Electricity Companies etc).
How does it work?
5. The VDS has been approved by the Local Planning Authority as Supplementary Planning Guidance to the Huntingdonshire Local Plan. Although the Local Plan does not envisage major development in Hilton, the philosophy and guidelines articulated in this VDS will be taken into account when planning applications are assessed. Such applications should also result in developments that can be readily absorbed into and harmonise with the existing visual character of the village.
6. Hilton's VDS has been made available to everyone in the village. It offers guidance to people who are considering extending or altering their properties, by providing a summary of the prevailing views of the village as a whole on future development.
How was Hilton's VDS produced?
7. A Group of village residents put this document together during 1998 and 1999. It is the distillation of the views of the village at large, secured through a wide ranging and extended process of consultation, which included:
- Sending questionnaires to every local group, business and school.
- A day long Workshop, during which about 40 people studied the village in detail.
- Participation in local events, such as the Harvest Fayre.
- Articles in Spectrum (the local monthly magazine circulated to all households) and The Hunts Post.
- An 'open door' policy on the part of the VDS Steering Group.
- Consultation with other villages which have produced Design Statements.
- Inviting comment on a draft of the VDS that was distributed to every household in the village.
- Obtaining advice and guidance from the Local Planning Authority and the Countryside Agency.