Policy DES1: Key Design Principles

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy DES1:  Key Design Principles

Achieving a beautiful and sustainable built environment will be secured by ensuring that new development:

  1. Minimises energy consumption and mitigates carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and adapts to the impacts of climate change through sustainable approaches to design;
  2. Responds positively and creatively to the context, is visually attractive, utilises high quality architecture, creates a place which has a distinctive character and has regard to the locally distinctive and valued characteristics of the area;
  3. Has due regard to the density, scale, layout, appearance, architectural detailing, materials and history of the surrounding area, and the relationship to neighbouring buildings, landscape features and heritage assets;
  4. Has a strong emphasis on natural features within the streetscene;
  5. Creates and/or contributes to the provision of neighbourhoods and places that prioritise and create a positive environment for walking, cycling and public transport;
  6. Has a high-quality public realm which contributes positively to the sense of place and supports a wide variety of activities;
  7. Provides for a compatible mix of uses, with the goal of providing vitality and a strong sense of community; and
  8. In the case of rural schemes, has a clearly rural character which is locally distinctive and is valued by local communities, whilst allowing for innovation, and avoids having a suburban appearance.

All proposals must be based upon a robust design-led approach, driven by a thorough understanding of the context. Where the existing context for a development lacks design quality or a distinctive character, new development must take the opportunities available to remedy those problems, create delight and enhance the existing character.

Development proposals need to be informed by, and respond positively to, extensive and effective engagement with the local community, which is proportionate to the scale of the development.

The council is supportive of neighbourhood planning making a positive contribution to the design process via suitable policies in neighbourhood plans.

It will not be acceptable to degrade design quality via subsequent applications, amendments and when complying with conditions which propose inferior design solutions, materials and details compared with those originally consented.

The assessment of this policy will be informed by relevant Neighbourhood Plans, Supplementary Planning Documents, Village Design Statements and also community documents which aid understanding of the context.

11.2 This policy sets out the key overarching design principles for new development, clarifying the principles which will ensure that new development achieves the council’s objective of creating a high-quality, sustainable and uplifting environment for residents, with a strong sense of place, vitality and positive character. The policy will be applied to new development in a manner which is appropriate to its scale. Not all of the requirements will be relevant to small scale development.
11.3 Sustainable design should underpin all new development. This policy does not seek to set specific requirements in relation to sustainable design credentials, as this is covered elsewhere in the LPU. However, sustainable design considerations should be integral to the design process from the outset and should be considered holistically, encompassing consideration of movement and landscaping as well as layout, design, orientation, massing and materials . Passive solutions and the incorporation of renewable energy technologies should be considered where appropriate and in a manner which is sympathetic to the overall design solution.
11.4 A thorough understanding of context must be demonstrated, ensuring that new development responds positively to the context, and offers a creative solution. Proposals should draw on the positive characteristics of the locality, and take whatever opportunities are available to remedy existing problems and enhance the character, appearance and function of the local area in order to make places for people, which are inspiring, healthy and sustainable. Contextual design also requires that new development is well-integrated into its surroundings.
11.5 A vital part of achieving a positive character for new development will be through ensuring that natural features are a key part of the streetscene. This will also have benefits in terms of tackling climate change and achieving biodiversity net gain. Consequently, soft landscaping and, in particular, street trees must be a key part of new development.
11.6 New development must ensure that it prioritises walking, cycling, and public transport, both within the internal layout of a development and also in terms of how it connects with its surroundings. New development must take available opportunities to expand and enhance sustainable transport options, for example through the provision of new and improved pedestrian and cycle paths, and by accommodating new and/or existing bus routes. Further advice on how Active Travel (walking and cycling) can be integrated into the design of a development is contained within the Sport England Active Design guidance.
11.7 In terms of the public realm, the quality of the spaces between buildings is as important as the buildings themselves. Streets need to be designed as public spaces for people and public spaces need to be incorporated in a manner appropriate to the scheme. Public spaces need to be in prominent positions within a layout with buildings fronting on to them, and should incorporate tree planting and other vegetation in order to provide shading, improve air quality and aid climate change mitigation. These spaces also need a clearly defined function and be designed and located accordingly. Regard also needs to be given at the outset to how these spaces will be used, managed and maintained. 
11.8 Sustainable development and a sense of community requires that a mix of uses are provided wherever possible and that walkable neighbourhoods are created. However, uses should be compatible with each other both when providing non-residential uses within residential areas and when providing residential development in close proximity to other established uses.
11.9 Developers must engage early and meaningfully with the local community and their representatives in accordance with the guidelines set out in the council’s Statement of Community Involvement[1]. Consultation prior to the submission of an application is a valuable and effective exercise in informing and achieving good design. When putting forward development proposals applicants are expected to explain, through an accompanying Design and Access Statement (when required) how they have taken a design-led approach in accordance with the principles set out in this policy and other relevant council and national level design guidance.
11.10 Outside of Basingstoke town, new development should reflect the rural character of the area and be heavily informed by local context. New development should not have a suburban character. Rural buildings forms and layouts should be emphasised, avoiding more standardised designs and regimented layouts (typical of suburban development). Neighbourhood Planning provides a vital mechanism for setting out how this approach can be applied in different parts of the borough in a contextual manner.
11.11 Relevant design guidance includes the Design and Sustainability SPD as well as community led planning documents, such as Village Design Statements. These community led documents describe the distinctive character of an area and set out design principles to demonstrate how local character can be protected and enhanced.
11.12 Neighbourhood planning has an important role to play in improving design standards. This process provides an excellent opportunity for a detailed consideration of contextual factors and issues related to place and local distinctiveness, derived from the appreciation of these issues by local people. The council is supportive of parish and town councils continuing to take the opportunity to develop a good understanding of the design priorities relevant to their areas and reflecting that in neighbourhood plans.
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • Specialist design advice provided in relation to pre-application submissions and the determination of planning applications
  • Design based guidance set out in the Design and Sustainability SPD and other documents such as masterplans, planning briefs and design briefs
  • The production and adoption of design codes for strategic sites and ensuring that developments adhere to their requirements.
  • Local design advice arrangements providing independent advice on development proposals, such as the local Design Review Panel.

The policy will be monitored through:

  • Building for a Healthy Life assessments of completed schemes, which will be reported annually in the Authority Monitoring Report. A quality target will be set as part of the AMR process and the outcomes of the assessment process will be considered in light of that target.

Building for a Healthy Life is a government endorsed method of assessing residential design quality, developed by Homes England in partnership with NHS England and endorsed by the Home Builders Federation and the Urban Design Group. This provides a method against which to assess schemes and to see how effectively this policy is being applied by the council.



[1] The Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) is produced by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and sets out the process for community engagement.