Policy DES2: Site Design

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

Policy DES2:  Site Design

Achieving beautiful design will be achieved by permitting development proposals where they:

  1. Utilise a site design which minimises the use of energy and other resources and which encourages the use of on-site renewable energy;
  2. Are cohesive in their overall design approach, both in relation to new development having a clearly defined character, and in creating a coherent relationship with their context;
  3. Create attractive and coherent arrangements of buildings, creating well defined streets which are well related to public open spaces and pedestrian and cycle paths;
  4. Provide developments which are walkable, well connected, accessible for all, safe, easy for people to find their way around and function well in practical terms;
  5. Successfully integrate existing and incorporate new, natural features, including street trees, into a multifunctional green network that supports quality of place, biodiversity and water management;
  6. Ensure that boundary treatments which are visible in the street scene respond positively to the design and character of the overall scheme and local context, and do not have a detrimental impact upon the street scene or prevent the provision of suitable soft landscaping;
  7. Ensure that parking provision, cycle storage and other service areas are easily accessible and are incorporated and designed in a manner which is consistent with the overall character of the development, and does not have a detrimental impact on its character or appearance and is in accordance with the adopted parking standards;
  8. Provide appropriate internal and external waste and recycling storage areas in order to promote effective recycling and disposal of household and commercial waste, in accordance with current adopted standards.  Waste and recycling storage areas are to be accessible to residents, will have accessible collection points for refuse vehicles and will not have a detrimental impact on the character or appearance of the development;
  9. Have due regard to Secured by Design principles, which minimise opportunities for crime;
  10. Provide a co-ordinated and comprehensive scheme that does not prejudice the future development or design of adjoining sites; and
  11. Ensure that new elements of the public realm, and those existing parts of the public realm which are related to the proposed development, will be suitably maintained and managed.
11.13 The concept of site design is essentially a holistic one and applies to any scheme involving multiple buildings. The policy seeks to ensure a coherent, design and sustainability focused approach to the various aspects of designing and delivering new development. More specifically, it seeks to ensure that new development creates a strong sense of place, which provides for a high quality of life for people, while reconciling this with the impacts upon the environment and ensuring that new development responds to the environmental constraints in as positive a manner as is possible. The approach looks beyond individual buildings and focuses on a development as a whole, how it relates to context and fully integrates key considerations such as quality of life, the environment and sustainability. The policy will be applied to new development in a manner which is reflective of its scale. Not all of the requirements will be relevant to small scale development.
11.14 New development will need to maximise the contributions of natural resources such as sun, ground and wind (in relation to ventilation rather than for power generation), and include passive measures for light, temperature, ventilation and heat. It will also be important to have regard to the policies within the LPU which specifically address sustainable design standards and ensure that consideration is given to these from the outset. Design considerations should be harmonised with these requirements.
11.15 It will be important to ensure that new development has a clearly defined and well-expressed design rationale, and this should be reflected in the design of the development as a whole. All its various components will need to contribute towards achieving that overall character. In addition, it will be important to consider the relationship between new development and its surroundings, so that the character of new development doesn’t undermine the coherence of its context.
11.16 New development needs to utilise an appropriate mix of building types, forms and scale, combined with the incorporation of suitably positioned public spaces to create a coherent form of development, which is visually attractive. In defining a pattern of streets and development blocks, regard will need to be given to street widths, the height of buildings around them, the relationship with street width, and the sense of enclosure that result. The relationship between building fronts and backs will be crucial, with successful streets characterised by buildings facing the street to provide interest, overlooking and active frontages at ground level.
11.17 Good design relates not only to the appearance of a development but also how it creates a positive living environment for people and how well it works in practical terms. Streets and other public spaces must be attractive, easy for people to find their way around, stimulating, with high quality street furniture providing a safe environment, in accordance with Secured by Design principles. A key issue is walkability, which is crucial for sustainability, quality of life and health. This requires that pedestrian routes are useful, safe, comfortable, interesting and legible. Pedestrian routes also need to be coherent and respond to desire lines. The high design standards pertaining to the quality of streets and paths applies regardless of whether they are adopted or not adopted by the Local Highway Authority.
11.18 Buildings and the external environment should be accessible to all members of the community. Routes and access points should be designed with this in mind. The needs of those with limited mobility and sensory problems should be considered in the planning and detailed design of developments. Necessary facilities and physical structures, installations or alterations that are required to facilitate access should be incorporated, whilst having regard to their appearance and impact on the proposed development and its surroundings.
11.19 It is important to emphasise nature within the built environment so that diverse ecosystems can flourish. Moreover, natural features need to be protected in their own right, but also in order to provide opportunities to improve the quality of places for people (as nature is vital for health and well-being), achieve local distinctiveness, and give form and definition to new development. In particular, existing trees and hedgerows which are capable of making a positive contribution to new development should be retained and should form an integral part of the overall layout. Street trees will need to be provided as part of the new development. These must be provided in locations whereby they will be able to thrive and grow to maturity without causing conflict with surrounding buildings and infrastructure and other users of the street. The effective incorporation of natural features must be a key design consideration from the outset. The maintenance and management of natural features must also be given careful consideration.

Figure 11.1: Example of natural features and open space being incorporated in a successful manner which gives a strong sense of place and an uplifting living environment

11.20 The successful provision of street trees requires careful consideration in terms of how they are integrated into new development, for example in terms of whether they are provided as part of the public highway (e.g. pavements), open space, or in private gardens. Careful consideration will need to be given to any impacts on the public highway, and it will be important to ensure relevant Highway Authority policy and guidance in relation to this issue is adhered to and considered from the outset. The siting of street trees and choice of species should allow sufficient space for their canopies to develop to maturity.
11.21 The interface with the public realm, particularly boundary treatment, is an important part of new development and needs to be given careful consideration from the outset and should be integral to the overall design solution. This should be approached in a manner which emphasise natural features as much as possible, for example by using hedging. Boundary treatment also needs to be consistent with the overall character of the development. It also needs to be durable and attractive. It is vital to create a positive interface and clear relationship between the public realm and private property, and areas of tall boundary treatment and blank walls must not front onto main streets or public spaces.
11.22 The incorporation of parking, cycle storage/parking and bin storage needs to be provided in a manner which is secure and convenient for users. However, these elements of the development need to be integrated in a manner which support the overall quality of the place. In the case of bin stores, it is also important that they do not have a detrimental impact on the amenity of residents. Parking areas in particular need to be provided in a manner which limits their impact on the streetscene. Any prominent parking areas need to be attractive, well-landscaped and sensitively integrated into the built form so that it does not dominate the development or the street scene. Prominent parking areas should incorporate green infrastructure, including trees, to soften the visual impact of cars, help improve air quality and contribute to biodiversity.
11.23 Careful planning and design create the right conditions for people to feel safe and secure, without the need for additional security measures. The principles set out above should ensure that new development is secure as well as being well designed. It is likely that the only additional feature will be an appropriate lighting scheme, which is effective for providing safety and security, while also being sympathetic to the design of the new development and its context.
11.24 High quality design needs to be supported by appropriate maintenance and management processes, otherwise the design quality achieved will be degraded over time. Development proposals need to include information clearly explaining who will be responsible for managing and maintaining the public realm associated with the proposal (open space, soft and hard landscape features, roads and pavements etc). Where a management company will be used a plan should be provided showing what areas they will be responsible for.
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.