Appendix D: Guidance for New Residential Development in Settlements
The purpose of this appendix is to provide a brief summary of the key elements of the existing guidance relating to the design of new residential developments in settlements. For full details, the guidance published by DfI and previously referred to, should be consulted.
Proposals for new residential development must take account of the specific circumstances of each site and have regard to the site context, in particular the characteristics of land form and the townscape or landscape setting, and the need for these elements to be integrated into the overall design concept. The design for a housing development should seek to reinforce and evolve local characteristics that are considered positive and attractive, while those urban design features that undermine the overall character of an area should not be replicated nor used as a precedent.
Context is particularly important for redevelopment schemes, infill housing and backland development in established residential areas. Whilst housing development is encouraged within the existing urban footprint, it should not cause unacceptable harm to the local character, environmental quality or residential amenity of existing areas, for example through inappropriate design or overdevelopment. Particular regard should be given to existing densities and layouts, plot sizes, ratios of built form to garden area, spacing between buildings, the scale, height and massing of buildings, architectural styles and the use of materials, the safeguarding of privacy, distance from boundaries of adjoining properties, impact of overlooking, loss of light or overshadowing, impact on existing vegetation and landscape design, impact of parking provision on street scene and the ratio of hard landscaping to soft landscaping/garden areas and refuse and recycling storage.
Backland development on plot depths of less than 80m is unlikely to be acceptable, except where the existing urban grain is high density in character, and where careful design can overcome residential amenity concerns.
The size of a home is a key factor in defining who can live there and how they use the property and this will be particularly important in terms of protecting the character of established residential areas. Whilst a mixture of different types and sizes of houses (including apartments and townhouses) can assist in the creation of balanced communities (see Policy HOU6 Housing Mix (Unit Types and Sizes)), it is critical that all new housing units are sufficiently spacious, particularly if they are to prove attractive to families with children on a long-term basis.
In assessing housing proposals in Conservation Areas and Areas of Townscape Character, the protection of the existing character and distinctive qualities of the area will be paramount. Notwithstanding broader policy to promote more housing within urban areas, proposals in the primarily residential parts of these designated areas, which involve intensification of site usage or site coverage, will only be permitted where they comply with Policy HE6 Conservation Areas and Policy HE7 Areas of Townscape Character.
The Local Policies Plan may indicate a density requirement or a specific number of dwellings for a particular housing zoning. Where this is not the case Council will have regard to the location of the proposal in relation to its context and the overall quality of the residential environment to be created.
In town centres or on sites which benefit from good accessibility to public transport facilities and services, high density development such as apartments or town houses will be acceptable, except where outweighed by other planning considerations.
In established residential areas, however, great care must be taken that development or redevelopment schemes do not unacceptably harm the local character, environmental quality, or amenity of such areas.
On greenfield sites innovative layouts and higher density schemes will be encouraged where they provide an attractive contrast to existing urban form and where it can be demonstrated that they will not detract from the residential amenity of adjoining developed areas. Site characteristics, the need to preserve existing site features and vegetation and the space requirements for the provision of communal open areas will all influence development densities. On large sites a range of densities, building forms and a mix of house types will be required to help promote balanced communities. In all cases however the overdevelopment of sites will not be acceptable.
Proposals must respect the individual characteristics and features of the site itself. These include topography, existing buildings, features of the historic environment (including archaeology or built heritage) and landscape features such as rivers, streams, trees and hedgerows, which make an important contribution to the biodiversity and ecology of an area. Proposals should identify and, where appropriate, protect and integrate historic and landscape features into layouts in a suitable manner. Further information on policies for the protection of landscape and historic features can be found in the Countryside Strategy and Historic Environment sections respectively.
Particular care will be necessary in preparing layout proposals on sloping sites in order to minimise the impact of differences in level between adjoining properties, existing or proposed. The use of prominent retaining walls within and at the margins of sloping sites will be unacceptable. In all cases developers will need to demonstrate that proposals will avoid significant overshadowing, overlooking and loss of privacy and visual dominance.
The design of house types and other buildings, the relationship between them, their relationship to streets and the spaces created around them will all strongly influence the character of the overall site and its surroundings and contribute significantly to the quality and identity of the new residential environment. All buildings should be located and orientated to front onto existing and proposed roads and public open space areas to present an attractive outlook. Spaces between groups of houses should include tree-lined avenues, crescents, mews, courtyards, lanes and greens. Corner sites and other accessible nodes should be treated with care and these should contain specifically designed buildings or landmark buildings.
The protection of the privacy of the occupants of residential properties is an important element of the quality of a residential environment. It is a particularly important consideration where new development is proposed adjacent to existing properties. Proposals should therefore seek to provide reasonable separation from existing adjacent buildings and between proposed properties within the development in order to minimise overlooking. This will also assist in providing acceptable levels of daylight to properties. The levels of separation that should be provided are detailed in the ‘Creating Places’ design guide (DOE/DRD 2000).
Security from Crime
To enhance security from crime and discourage anti-social behaviour, the back gardens of dwellings should be enclosed and back onto each other. Public open spaces, pedestrian routes and cycle linkages should be overlooked by the fronts of dwellings and other buildings to provide maximum surveillance. Narrow, potentially unfrequented or unsupervised routes for pedestrians and cyclists will not be acceptable. ‘Secured by Design’ is a UK project for promoting the principles of designing out crime from the built environment. Developers and their professional advisers should take account of these principles in preparing schemes.
From design stage residential developments must have regard for sustainable movement patterns and seek to reduce reliance on the private car, foster movement by pedestrians and cyclists, provide convenient access to public transport and existing or proposed facilities in the vicinity. Existing public rights of way should also be respected. All roads should be planned and designed to contribute to the overall quality of the development and create a permeable layout with a network of interconnected carriageways and, where appropriate, a number of access points to the development. Residential developments will be required to incorporate traffic calming measures to keep traffic speeds low, improve safety and help create a better environment. Road layouts which do not pay due regard to the quality of the residential development and the need to foster sustainable movement patterns will be unacceptable, even though technical requirements may be met. Council will also assess the need for the design of layouts to safeguard access to adjoining lands to ensure that the comprehensive development of a site or future development potential is not prejudiced.
The amount of car parking required in any development will be negotiated with developers according to the specific characteristics of the development and its location and having regard to the latest supplementary planning guidance. All car parking should be well designed, convenient and located to allow for informal surveillance and in accordance with Policy HOU7Adaptable and Accessible Homes. It should not, however, dominate the residential environment to be created. For apartment developments, appropriate provision should be made for communal bicycle storage to help promote active travel.
Form, Materials and Detailing
The overall design concept for a new residential environment should seek to provide contrast and interest balanced by unifying elements to provide coherence and identity. As well as greater variety in the spatial form of development this will entail a greater diversity of dwelling form and type to help produce a lively street scene. Coherence can be created in the detailed design of the different dwelling types by following the best local traditions of form, materials and detailing. Developers will be required to provide details of the boundary treatment of buildings as this can significantly affect the overall quality and character of new housing areas. Council will expect use of appropriate hedge planting and well designed walls or railings as opposed to the wholesale use of close boarded fencing. Adequate refuse and recycling storage areas should be designed as an integral element of flat/apartment developments accessible to all residents and screened from amenity space and the public realm to safeguard amenity.
In assessing schemes in Conservation Areas and Areas of Townscape Character, Council will have particular regard to published design guidance. While Council considers it important to ensure that all new development fits in well with its surroundings this will not preclude quality contemporary design using modern materials.
Council wishes to promote and encourage new homes that are designed to be energy efficient, low carbon, water efficient and resilient to climate change. This includes orientating buildings to maximise passive solar gain, the use of renewable energy technologies and sustainable construction techniques and measures to enhance biodiversity. For example solar thermal panels that produce hot water and photovoltaic (PV) panels or tiles that produce electricity can be installed in roofs. Green or ‘living’ roofs can further benefit the environment by enhancing biodiversity and providing high standards of insulation.
Existing landscape features such as streams, hedgerows or trees should be identified and, where appropriate, retained and suitably integrated into developments, together with the provision of adequate open space in their vicinity to ensure they and their visual setting are protected and assist in the promotion of biodiversity. Where it is necessary to remove existing trees the layout should include proposals for compensatory tree planting.
Developments should include a hierarchy of different types of planting such as street trees, garden trees and amenity planting in open spaces. The integration of development at the edges of settlements is also important and buffer planting will be required to help assimilate and soften its impact on the countryside. In addition, all hard landscape design, including paving areas, means of enclosure and street furniture should be carefully considered and the use of high quality materials will be required alongside the use of SuDS solutions where practicable. Developers will be required to carry out all landscape works associated with their schemes and must provide establishment maintenance and ongoing long term management, unless this responsibility is transferred to another appropriate body in a manner formally agreed with Council.
Public Open Space
Appropriate and sufficient provision of public open space is vital to the overall design quality of any residential development. It has important recreational, amenity and social value for residents and can help to foster a sense of community. As a minimum, there will be a requirement to ensure that open space is integrated with the development, accessible and useable so that it meets the needs generated by the particular development, including children’s play space. However, regard should also be given to meeting broader aims relating to promoting health and well being and securing sustainable development. For example, where public open space within a residential development can be linked to a broader green infrastructure network and it will open up opportunities for enhancing biodiversity and encouraging recreation and active travel. Open space within a residential development (including both public and private open space) also provide opportunities to provide for sustainable drainage. All open space areas should be suitably located, proportioned and planted. Narrow or peripheral tracts which are of limited public benefit or difficult to manage will not be acceptable.
Private Open Space
Well-designed space around buildings can add greatly to the attractiveness of a development, especially where the principles of defensible space are applied. A variety of garden sizes and usable open spaces will promote diversity and give greater choice for potential residents. Private open space may take the form of gardens, patios or balconies, depending on the characteristics of the development proposed and the surrounding context. All houses will need to provide some in-curtilage open space. The provision of adequate private garden space is particularly important for new family dwellings – generally dwellings with three or more bedrooms. For apartment developments private open space may be provided in the form of communal gardens where appropriate management arrangements are agreed. The appropriate level of private open space required is detailed in the ‘Creating Places’ design guide (DOE/DRD 2000).
Provision of necessary Local Infrastructure and Neighbourhood Facilities
Local infrastructure includes road links, cycle-ways, drainage and wastewater and other environmental improvements. Local neighbourhood facilities include social and community uses such as schools, crèches, surgeries and local shops. Where these are required they should be incorporated into the overall design and layout of the development, designed to a high standard and located to provide focal points and landmark features. The location and design of such facilities should also respect the amenities of proposed and existing housing.
The provision of local facilities within residential development is one of the means to increase vitality, provide a sense of community and enhance the social and economic sustainability of the development. Large scale housing schemes must provide necessary services and community infrastructure to enable new growth to be satisfactorily accommodated. Otherwise they will place further pressure on already overstretched facilities and services and increase the need to travel. The need for local neighbourhood facilities to be provided in conjunction with proposals for new residential development will be assessed by Council in consultation with relevant bodies. Any provision considered necessary will relate fairly and reasonably to the scale of development proposed and the needs generated by that development. On zoned housing land where a need has already been identified it will be included as a key site requirement.
Whilst the provision of local facilities and community buildings may impose additional costs on developers, Council considers it reasonable to expect that developers will contribute to the cost of provision of necessary facilities and/or set land aside for development and use by the local community. This may entail developers and landowners entering into a planning agreement with Council.
Design Concept Statements and Concept Master Plans
For a large scheme or a site in a sensitive location, such as a Conservation Area, Area of Townscape Character, the type of information and detail required for the Design Concept Statement will include some or all of the following:
- an appraisal of the site context highlighting those features in the vicinity of the site which influence the design of the scheme;
- an appraisal of the characteristics of the site - identifying features within the site and how they influence the design of the scheme. This should include landscape features, an analysis of existing flora and fauna and the location of any archaeological or built heritage features or sites of nature conservation importance;
- an indicative layout of the proposed scheme including for example the siting of buildings, proposed public transport facilities, pedestrian and cycle routes and linkages to existing facilities and routes, the layout of streets, access arrangements and traffic calming measures proposed;
- sketch details of the design of buildings;
- a comprehensive and readily understood structure to the open space and landscape elements of the scheme including proposals for subsequent management and maintenance;
- information on any improvements to infrastructure required to facilitate the proposed development; and
- the type and location of any necessary local neighbourhood facilities and linkages to existing community facilities.
Advice and guidance on site appraisal and the type of information that will be required to accompany Concept Master Plans and Design Concept Statements is contained in ‘Creating Places’ design guide (DOE/DRD 2000).