THE use of design codes has failed to speed up the planning process or improve community consultation, according to research commissioned by the government.

The study is an evaluation of the nine areas of the country where the codes have been piloted. It concludes that "codes make no discernible difference to the length of the formal stages of the planning process".

It also says that codes "have no significant role to play in building consensus within communities".

Supporters of design codes have been locked in a struggle with architects over their merits. The two principal arguments advanced to support their use have been that they speed up the planning process and encourage greater community buy-in.

The research found that although codes do not deliver a faster planning or development process, they can make the process of applying for and obtaining detailed consent "more streamlined and predictable".

It says that codes can help to deliver better quality development and reduce the risks of delay caused by arguments over design and layout.

It recommends that the most suitable areas for using codes are large sites and those where a number of different developers and land owners are involved.

Prince's Foundation chief executive Hank Ditmar said that developers would not save time by using design codes until they had statutory backing, as the government is proposing.