Barking Road

Character and Context

Planning for neighbourhoods in a city as dynamic and diverse as London can be a challenge. There is a balance to be struck between change and preservation, accommodating growth and protecting the things that people value. Getting an understanding of a place’s character and context can ensure that development can make a real contribution to its place and its people.

The Character and Context supplementary planning guidance (SPG) sets out a process for acquiring this knowledge, so that change is brought about in a way which is responsive to individual places and locations.

What guidance does the SPG provide?

 The SPG provides guidance on:

  • the attributes of character and context in London (physical, cultural, social, economic, perceptions and experience)
  • resources that inform an understanding of character and context in London
  • the different aspects of character, how these aspects relate to each other and how this can be articulated and presented to others
  • examples of how understanding character and context can help manage change so that it sustains and enhances the positive attributes of a place

It is aimed at borough planners, developers and their agents preparing planning applications and communities looking to prepare Neighbourhood Plans for their area.

Which London Plan policies does the document provide guidance on?

There a number of policies for creating well-designed places which particularly relate to local character and context. However, the overarching policy for this SPG is policy 7.4 Local Character. 


The SPG can be downloaded by clicking on the below link. There is also a separate non-technical summary that sets out the main messages of the SPG and a supporting list of data and research resources provided below.

Character and Context SPG

Character and Context Non technical summary

Character and Context SPG - Data Sources