The Essex Design Guide was established in 1973 by Essex County Council. It is used as a reference guide to help create high quality places with an identity specific to its Essex context.  This was the first of its kind, an attempt to challenge the dominance of highway engineering standards over the design, form and character of residential development. The preceding publication was released in 2005. The 2018 edition seeks to address the since evolution of socio-economic impacts of place-making.

The 2018 update has sought to comprehensively review and update the EDG to ensure guidance remains contemporary through incorporation throughout the guide new socio-economic themes that reflect the challenges and opportunities facing Essex. Work also includes expert revision of the content to ensure it is effective for the new online format, reflects updated policy (including NPPF) and responds to suggested improvements in the previous guide. Diagrams, images and annotations have also been revised to include new examples of contemporary design and reinforce the importance context appraisal in the delivery of the most appropriate solution for a place. In response to user feedback on the 2005 EDG, an additional highways manual containing tables, diagrams and Manual for Streets references has been created to provide clarity on the specific technical requirements and standards relating to support the creation of a layout compliant with the Essex Highways adoption guidance.