Design and Townscape Guide - Refresh 2009 (Consultation Draft)

Ended on the 30 April 2009
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Section 2 - Design Principles

25. This document sets out the principles of good urban design and its aim is to raise the standard of design throughout the Borough. It is not the Council's role to dictate architectural style or form of development, nor does it wish to impose a particular style, however the design of any new development needs to be contextual, of a sufficiently high quality and complement local character.

26. This section gives an overview of Design Principles that will be used to help assess planning applications for all building development in the Borough.

(5)2.1 Overview of Southend-on-Sea Borough

27. Southend-on-Sea Borough comprises of former villages and small settlements, such as Prittlewell, Leigh, Old Southend and Shoeburyness, which were absorbed by the rapidly expanding town of Southend during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This period of expansion resulted mainly from the town's attraction as a seaside resort and as a residential area for people moving away from London. It established the broad pattern of development seen today.

28. The focus of the retail and offices are in Southend Town Centre and other more local shopping and commercial centres are generally based on the centres older settlements. Each part of the Borough has its own character and they are linked together into one continuous urban area by extensive housing areas, schools, parks and industrial estates. The housing areas are also very diverse, ranging from the dense Victorian and Edwardian terracing in Leigh, Westcliff and central Southend to later, more spacious developments in Eastwood, Thorpe Bay and North Shoebury.

29. Many of the historic buildings and conservation areas in the Borough are centred around the early settlements and the Borough has some good examples of modern architecture but the character of Southend's built environment is not only a result of individual building design or history, it also involves the use of its buildings, streets and open spaces and planted areas and how they relate to each other.

30. It is essential to preserve the diversity of the town and the distinctive characters of each area and how well new developments respond to the local townscape is key to their successful integration into the community. Good design that is complementary to the local context is therefore of paramount importance and each proposal will be carefully assessed on how well it achieves this. Local distinctiveness must be instilled into all new developments.

(2)2.2 Site Appraisal

2.2.1 Assets and Physical Constraints of the Site

31. At the beginning of the design process it is essential to determine the assets and the constraints, such as any natural features and the geography, boundaries and thresholds of adjacent sites and buildings, services, highways, open space and landscaping. In some cases the constraints may also include the retention of existing historic buildings or features on the site or views of historic buildings adjacent to the site. These will be the specific site attributes that require a design response.

32. The site evaluation process may throw up conflicting issues, how these have been prioritised and addressed should be explained in the Design and Access Statement.

(6)2.2.2 Topography and Natural Features

33. The topography of a site is an important part of its character and should be integral to any design proposal. Flattening and levelling a site is not necessarily the best option and can create structural problems.

34. New buildings and extensions should work with the landscape and seek to make best use of the site's existing topography and natural features. For example:

  • Steep gradients are often seen as a building constraint but they may offer views and vistas or shelter from noise and wind. The contours of the site should be one of the factors that determine the footprint of the development. It is important to note however, that the land stability of steep sites should also be carefully investigated and in some cases remedial measures may be required as part of the development process.
  • Mature landscaping and trees can instantly soften a new development, offer privacy and provide an enhanced outlook and offer habitat for many local species. New proposals should be designed to accommodate existing trees and other landscape features such as hedges and areas of established wildlife habitat, wherever possible.

See also Section 3.12 Biodiversity and Section 5.1.3 Landscaping

Flood Risk

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2; Development Principles - 11b
Core Strategy Policy KP3: Implementation and Resources - 2c

35. One of the major assets of Southend-on-Sea is the Thames Estuary, but its location adjacent to a large tidal estuary means that some areas of the town may be at risk of flooding. Fluvial and water run-off flood risk also exists in other parts of the Borough In cases where there is a risk of flooding the sequential test should be used to determine whether there are other more suitable sited for the development . In the case of development proposals along the Seafront - the Core Strategy DPD Policy KP1 has identified the seafront as a location for focussed and appropriate regeneration and growth, a spatial strategy that has been found 'sound' by an Independent Inspector. As such the sequential test to determine whether there are other more suitable sites for development should be limited to other sites within the seafront area only.

36. Where the Environment Agency's Flood Zone Maps or other considerations, including the South Essex Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, indicate that a risk of flooding may remain, all development proposals will need to be accompanied by a detailed flood risk assessment appropriate to the scale and nature of the development and the risk. Along the seafront or where it can be demonstrated that there are no other less vulnerable sites then the layout should be informed by the topography. Buildings and in particular residential uses should not be located at ground level.

37. Development in such areas will be required to assess the risk and provide flood mitigation measures as necessary. These could include internal flood proofing, improved drainage systems, flood barriers, bunds, flood storage. It may also call for more innovative techniques such as sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) and surface water management plans which make the most of the benefits of green infrastructure for flood storage, conveyance, re-creating functional flood plain, setting back defences. Grey water recycling should be considered for larger schemes and all development must use porous surfacing to hardstandings and surface car parking areas to improve drainage. Increased vegetation can also be used to improve natural drainage and lessen the risk of flooding.

For further information on Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems see Section 3 Sustainable Development and Design.

Developments may be required to submit an assessment of the potential flood risks with their planning application - see Section 6 Submitting an Application. Further information on the Sequential Test for flooding can be found in Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk and the accompanying best practice guidance which are available to view on

(4)2.2.3 Character and Context

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2: Development Principles - 5,6,10
Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 5


'Design which is inappropriate in its context, or which fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions, should not be accepted.' (PPS3: Housing)

'An appreciation of local climate, urban form, culture, topography, building types and materials is necessary to nurture local distinctiveness.' (Urban Design Compendium 2, English Partnerships 2008)

38. The character of a place is unique. It can be defined by many things, some are broad in nature and some are identified by details. Within Southend Borough there are a wide variety of characters ranging from the tight knit Victorian and late Victorian terraces in south Leigh, Westcliff and Southend to the later more spacious development in Eastwood, Thorpe Bay and Shoebury. The Seafront and the town and local centres also have very different characters.

See also Section Scale, Height and Massing, Areas of Uniform Character

39. When designing a new development or an extension to an existing building it is essential to ensure that the scheme is informed by and complements local character. Enriching the diversity between different areas of the Borough and strengthening of local distinctiveness will be encouraged.

40. The character of all immediate neighbours and the wider townscape should inform the layout, scale and design of any new development. How much of the surrounding area should be looked at will depend on the scale of the development and the sensitivity of the site. A design solution that is appropriate for one site is not necessarily appropriate in other areas. New development should build on the positive aspects of local character, not usually copy it.

41. Developers should be able to demonstrate that their designs have been considered and respect local character. This type of analysis will be required in the Design and Access Statement accompanying all applications

See Section 6 - Submitting an Application.

42. The following list provides an outline of the things that should be considered when assessing the special character of an area:

Location and Links to the Wider Area

Is the site on a distributor road, in a local, district or town centre or within a quieter more residential area? How accessible is the site? Are there good links to local facilities and public transport? How can these links be utilised and improved through any new development? Is there the potential to make new connections through the site?

Historical Development and Local Vernacular

Does the area have a significant history? Is it a conservation area? Are there any historic buildings on or adjacent to the site that must be respected? Is there a predominant building style in the street? Are there any archaeological interests on the site?

Urban Grain and Morphology

What is the pattern of development? Is it uniformed or informal? Is the grain tight knit or loose and open? What is the relationship to adjacent areas? What is the permeability of the area?

Public and Private Spaces and Enclosure

Is the street narrow and enclosed by buildings or is it a generous width and defined by open corners and junctions? Are there public spaces nearby? How do these relate to the streetscene and the buildings? What are the desire lines of the space? Can the quality and connectivity of the space be improved through the development? Are there gaps in the street frontage that cause an uncomfortable lack of enclosure?

Uniformity and Rhythm of Buildings

Is the streetscene characterised by the order and rhythm of the buildings or are they all different? Are the materials, windows, roof forms, building frontage lines, storey heights uniform or is there a diverse range of form, scale and materials?

Topography, Natural and Built Landmarks, Views and Skyline

What is the landform of the locality? Are there any watercourses or coastlines? Are there views of natural features or local landmarks, in or out, or through, the site that should be preserved? Is the skyline seen from other parts of the Borough? Which buildings are important?

Natural Environment and Trees

Do the existing trees and vegetation make a significant contribution to visual amenity, biodiversity and character of the wider area? Are they important in the streetscene and / or local wildlife? How can they be incorporated within the design proposal? Are there any Tree Preservation Orders or protected species on the site?


Are there any special items of street furniture or gateway features that contribute to the streetscape and should they be retained? Are there items of street clutter and barriers to movement that can be rationalised as part of the development? How are the property boundaries defined? Who are the neighbours? How close are the neighbours to the boundaries of the site? Are the frontages to the site public or private?

Function and Uses throughout the Day and Night

Is the character predominately residential, commercial or mixed use? Is it in a town or local centre? Is it vibrant and busy or quiet and calm?

Enhancing Character

43. In areas where the existing character is weak, designs which bring new character and quality will be encouraged. New development should exploit and strengthen the characteristics of an area or create a new characteristic that will provide an enhanced identity to guide future development.

Assessing Capacity

44. New developments will have an impact on the existing infrastructure. For example all proposals are likely to increase the number of vehicular trips and demands on service suppliers. Residential units may also create additional strains on school capacity and parking. It is therefore essential to ensure that the local infrastructure, facilities and networks are able to cope with increased demand new development will place on them. Major schemes must demonstrate that the proposed development will not have a detrimental effect on existing infrastructure and will normally be expected to make financial or practical contributions to improving the provision of local infrastructure and services in accordance with the Council's adopted and emerging policies. These are usually secured through a legal agreement.

For further information see the emerging Planning Obligations DPD which will be available to view at in due course.

(4)2.3 The Design Concept

(2)2.3.1 Building Form Appearance

'Good architecture is less to do with a particular style and more to do with the successful co-ordination of proportions, materials, colour and detail.' (Buildings for Life, CABE 2007)

45. There is not normally only one 'right' answer for the appearance of a development. However, the approach taken must have a positive relationship to context, reinforce local distinctiveness and seek to enhance the character of an area. A traditional or contemporary design may be equally valid for the same site provided they compliment the local townscape. The reasons for choosing a particular style and an explanation of the detailed design must be outlined in the Design and Access Statement. Generic house types do not respond to local context and will not normally be appropriate unless of exceptional design quality.

46. All buildings must have the same high quality of design for all facades, just because there are limited views of the side and rear elevations is not a excuse for bland or 'dumbed down' elevations. This issue has recently been upheld at appeal:

"The fact that views from the public realm would be restricted is not a justification for poor design" Appeal Decision Ref APP/D1590/A/07/20592/NWF (13th May 2008, Westcliff-on-Sea)

47. Whatever approach is taken all new residential buildings will be expected to meet the 'Building for Life standard' which is the national benchmark for well-designed housing and neighbourhoods in England.

For further information on Building for Life Standards see

See also Section 2.3.4 Streetscene

(3) Density

'Good design is fundamental to using land efficiently.' (PPS3 :Housing)

'More intensive development is not always appropriate. However, when well designed and built in the right location, it can enhance the character and quality of an area. Successful intensification need not mean high rise development or low quality accommodation with inappropriate space.' (PPS3: Housing)

'Neighborhoods are more successful when they avoid large concentrations of housing of the same type. A good mix of housing types and sizes is important in creating a basis for a balanced community. Even comparatively small developments can have a wide mix of types of property. Also, a mix of housing types and uses can create more attractive residential environments with greater diversity in building forms and scales.'(Buildings for Life, CABE 2007)

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2: Development Principles - 2,5,6,10

48. When assessing the development potential of a site it is essential that the local character, location, infrastructure capacity and the availability of usable amenity space are considered but land is at a premium, particularly in Southend Borough, so it is important that every development makes efficient use of the space available without compromising the quality of life for the occupants or its neighbours. . Optimising the site does not necessary mean that it should be of high density, it all depends on what is appropriate for the context. Development sites in town centres and along public transport corridors generally lend themselves to higher densities. However, high density schemes with large footprints can easily become overbearing and dominant in the streetscene.

The Council will be commissioning work to assess the various characters and densities of the Borough and this will be published on the website in due course at Further details on the special character of the Town Centre and Seafront will be provided in the Town Centre and Seafront Area Action Plans which are currently being prepared.

49. However, provided the location is appropriate, high density schemes can have many benefits for the wider community, such as:

  • Vibrant neighbourhoods and businesses
  • Additional community facilities and public open space
  • Greater natural surveillance
  • More opportunities for energy conservation by design
  • Easier to create a sense of place

50. It is important to remember that high density does not necessarily mean high rise. The density of many areas within Southend, particularly the terraced areas, is already high. In some instance low, compact or terraced houses may be a more acceptable option than increasing the storey height. Every development site is different and needs an individual solution. Where the prevailing character is of a lower density or the infrastructure is overstretched, high density schemes may not be appropriate.

51. It is a common mistake to apply domestic architectural language over a very non-domestic scale of development. This can result in a number of unresolved forms, proportions and misleading language. It is therefore important to ensure that the adopted architecture and detailing are appropriate for the scale of the development.

52. The accommodation mix should reflect the needs and aspirations of the local community and complement the character of the local area. This creates more balanced neighbourhoods and more interesting buildings. In line with PPS3 and the Core Strategy developments will be expected to contribute to maintaining and enhancing a variety of unit sizes and types of residential accommodation in the Borough. Where the local character is family housing rather than flats or apartments then proposals will be expected to reflect this. On more prominent sites, adjacent to residential areas a mix of house types that provide both family housing and flats may be considered appropriate. This type of development also allows for a smoother transition between lower density housing to higher density flats within a holistic design approach. On landmark sites in the town centre, or at key public transport nodes / interchanges, a mixed use development with no houses may be appropriate but schemes in these locations should still include a variety of flat sizes and tenures. In these more sensitive locations it is imperative that pre-application advice is sought.

Also See Section Scale, Height and Massing.

(3) Internal Arrangements and Space Standards

53. Residential units should be self contained with their own kitchen, bathroom and WC behind their own secure private entrance. All habitable rooms should have natural ventilation and daylight and be of an adequate size for their function. This is an issue for the developer, but they will need to have regard to the needs of Registered Social Landlords where any affordable housing element is proposed and also the requirements of the CABE Thames Gateway Design Pact.

Further details of the Thames Gateway Design Pact can be found on the CABE website under publications.

54. All new residential developments therefore, including affordable housing, will be expected to meet Lifetime Homes Standards. These are a set of distance, height and space standards that enable homes to be easily adapted accommodate life events quickly, cost-effectively and without upheaval. This means that occupiers can, if they choose, stay in the same home longer and adapt it for their changing circumstances. For example a wheelchair turning circle is used as the benchmark for a good space requirement. This increased room space also helps parents with small children, people with bikes or bags of shopping. Accessibility is for everyone, not just people who use wheelchairs.

55. Where possible the design of houses should be flexible enough to allow for future extensions (for example in the roof or to the rear).All residential units should have the potential for open plan living and to use rooms in a variety of ways (e.g. as a living area, workplace, study or bedroom).

The detailed requirements for Lifetime Homes Standards are set out in Appendix4. For further information see Part M of the Building Regulations and the Disability Discrimination Act which can be viewed at

(6) Scale, Height and Massing

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2; Development Principles - 10
Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 5
Core Strategy Policy CP8: Sport Recreation and Green Space - 2
Saved BLP Policy C11 - New Buildings, Extensions and Alterations - iii, iv
Saved BLP Policy H3 - Retention of Small Family Houses
Saved BLP Policy H6 - Protecting Residential Character

56. The successful integration of any new development is dependent upon the appropriate scale, height and massing in relation to the existing built fabric. Buildings that are over scaled will appear dominant in the streetscene and development which is under scaled will appear weak and be equally detrimental. The easiest option is to draw reference from the surrounding buildings. This is generally a good 'rule of thumb', especially where local character is uniform. Referencing in this was does not necessarily include looking at landmark buildings nearby. The character of much of the Borough is defined by street blocks or small runs of properties.

Areas of Uniform Scale

57. There are many examples of consistent scale in Southend Borough, most of these are in the Borough's residential areas. Some of the most common of these include:

Areas of Terraced Housing

58. A number of residential areas across the Borough are traditional Victorian and Edwardian terraced housing. Of all the residential areas these are the most consistent in style and this is the most significant element of their character. Their designs typically include double height bay windows and strong vertical proportions.

Streets of only Bungalows

59. There are a number of areas, particularly in the north and east of the Borough, which are made up of predominately generously spaced detached or semi-detached bungalows. Whilst the detailed design of the bungalows often varies, the scale and spacious building layouts remain consistent. The scale and grain are therefore two of the most important aspects of local character as they bring a strong cohesiveness to the area and give the streets an open and light quality. In these areas the voids between buildings are considered very important too.

Areas of Large Detached and Semi-detached Housing

60. With a similar density but at the other end of the scale spectrum there are also some areas of large family houses in the Borough. These areas have a completely different character - the larger buildings are more imposing and the streets have an altogether grander feel. Again the individual designs may vary but their scale, grain and use as single family dwelling houses are unifying characteristics and key to local character. This type of housing is most prevalent in Thorpe Bay (for example the Burges Estate and Thorpe Esplanade), Leigh (for example Marine Estate) and Chalkwell (for example Chalkwell Hall Estate), but can also be found in other areas of the town.

61. In these areas, proposals for development of a larger, or different or unbalancing scale would be detrimental to local character and will be resisted in principle. All new development should aim to preserve and enhance local character, development which is harmful will not be acceptable. Generally the conversion of these buildings to flats will be unacceptable given the knock on needs for extensions, car parking or the increase in parking pressure.

62. The Council aims to achieve balanced communities whenever an opportunity for new housing arises. Over recent years both large single family dwellings and bungalows are not generally being developed but these building types will be actively encouraged in areas where they are appropriate to local character.

Areas of Varied Scale

63. There are also parts of the Borough where the scale of development is mixed. These range from small variations in residential areas to a more mixed scale in the town centre and along the seafront. In these areas the difference in scale can also contribute to local character. For example some streets are defined by two storey buildings relatively regularly interspersed with smaller bungalows, this lack of regularity of roof line and scale also contributes to the character of the street.

64. However areas where the townscape is more varied in terms of height, plot size and design, tend to offer more scope for a change in scale. This can range from small changes in residential areas to more significant variations in the Boroughs more commercial areas where the development site may offer an opportunity to create a new landmark building. What constitutes appropriate building height will be determined on a site by site basis and pre-application advice should be sought.

65. For clarity the Borough Council will seek to protect its stock of bungalows across the town. Their protection from loss will be one the ways in which the Borough Council intends to meet the Government's requirement to provide and maintain housing to Lifetime Homes Standards. For information, Lifetime Homes provide accessible and adaptable accommodation for everyone, from young families to older people and individuals with a temporary or permanent physical impairment.

For further information on Lifetime Homes see Section Internal Arrangements and Space Standards and Appendix 4 Lifetime Homes Standards. See also Design and Townscape Guide Sections 2.2.3 Character and Context and Section Density

Justification for Increased height

Schemes that propose buildings that are taller than their neighbours will be required to justify why an increased height is acceptable. This ranges from buildings that are a one or two storeys higher to ones which are many storeys higher.

66. Proposals for buildings of increased height will only be considered where one of the following conditions is met and justified:

  • To provide variety to the roofline - only appropriate where a varying roofline is a characteristic of the area, should respect existing plot widths, small variations in height only. (Note. In areas where smaller scale buildings are part of the defining character, increasing the scale may not be considered appropriate.)
  • To act as a local landmark (small variation in height only)- townscape significance of the site should be explained in the Design and Access Statement,.
  • Define a node - usually only appropriate at the junction of two or more main routes / distributors, non-residential elements may be required to reinforce importance of junction.
  • To provide presence to a public open spaces - where the space has a clear civic or community function.
  • To act as a district or major landmark - few appropriate sites, exceptional design required. Justification for significant increase in height should be provided in the Design and Access Statement

67. Where larger buildings are considered appropriate they can be designed in such a way so as they do not appear over dominant in the wider streetscene. For example:

  • The impact may be significantly reduced by the introduction of set backs at upper levels. This makes the upper most storeys less visible from the street and can reduce the perception of scale.
  • Stepping the upper storeys away from the side flanks is also a recognised way of smoothing the transition between adjacent buildings of different sizes.
  • Careful detailing of the elevations can also lessen the scale of a larger development. For example, introducing some form of layering such as balconies or breaks in the building line can be effective. Greater transparency at upper floors can also lessen the impact.
  • Articulating a frontage with strong vertical rhythms in can also help break up long facades.

68. However, if these techniques are to be employed, it is imperative that they are integral to the overall design and not just 'stuck on' as a way of achieving extra accommodation.

69. On large development sites, concepts such as splitting the development into two or more blocks, and increasing the transparency and layering should be considered to reduce the impact on the surrounding townscape.

70. All developments should retain a strong degree of interaction at ground level so that pedestrians are not confronted by unfriendly blank facades. This can be achieved by introducing transparency, particularly for main entrances, on the street elevations and on the larger developments, introducing additional active uses at ground level.

71. Proposals for new buildings will need to demonstrate in the Design and Access Statement why the scale proposed is appropriate for the site. This is best done through the inclusion on streetscape diagrams and photomontages which show relationship to neighbours and surrounding properties.

(3) Tall Buildings

'To be acceptable, any new tall building should be in an appropriate location, should be of excellent design quality in its own right and should enhance the qualities of its immediate location and the wider setting. It should produce more benefits than costs to the lives of those affected by it.' CABE Guidance on Tall Buildings 2006.

Policy Link - Saved BLP Policy C11 - New Buildings, Extensions and Alterations

72. A tall building is defined to be a building that is significantly taller than its neighbours and/or which recognisably changes the skyline. High quality tall buildings in the right place can act as landmarks, be a catalyst for regeneration and an opportunity to enrich the public realm by creating new internal and external public spaces. In the right place, individual or groups of tall buildings can transform the image and identity of the town and stimulate investment, however, they are not always appropriate and it is therefore important to establish whether the principle of a high building is acceptable before considering the detail. The siting of a tall building is key to its successful integration into the townscape.

73. Clusters of tall buildings will be more appropriate, in principle, in the town centre (including Victoria Avenue) and central seafront (between the pier and the gasworks jetty) but not in other areas of the Borough. Out of the town centre, tall buildings may only be appropriate in very few and unique key locations where they are compatible with local character and the wider skyline. An indiscriminate proliferation of high buildings within the Borough will not be acceptable.

74. It should be noted that in some cases, even where a site could be considered to be a landmark location, tall buildings may not be appropriate where they will detrimentally affect the setting of historic buildings or areas or where they adversely impact on a key view.

Tall Building Design

75. In all cases tall buildings need to be of a high quality distinctive design which enhances both the immediate surroundings and the wider setting. Proposals for tall buildings will be assessed against the CABE Tall Building Criteria for Evaluation. Applicants seeking planning permission for tall buildings should ensure, therefore, that these criteria are fully addressed in the scheme design and explained in the Design and Access Statement:

Guidance on Tall Buildings CABE 2006

The relationship to context, including natural topography, scale, height , urban grain, streetscape, and built form, open spaces, rivers and waterways, important views, prospects and panoramas, and the effect on the skyline. Tall buildings should have a positive relationship with relevant topological features and other tall buildings; the virtue of clusters when perceived from all directions should be considered in this light.

The effect of the historic context, including the need to ensure that the proposal will preserve and/or enhance historic buildings, sites, landscapes and skylines. Tall building proposals must address their affect on the setting of, and view to and from historic buildings, sites and landscapes over a wide area including:

  • World heritage sites
  • Scheduled ancient monuments
  • Listed buildings
  • Registered parks and gardens, and registered battlefields
  • Archaeological remains
  • Conservation areas

The relationship to transport infrastructure, aviation constraints, and, in particular, the capacity of public transport, the quality of links between transport and the site, the feasibility of making improvements, where appropriate. Transport is important in relation to tall buildings because of the intensity of use, as well as density, that they represent.

The architectural quality of the buildings including its scale, form, massing, proportion and silhouette, facing materials and relationship to other structures. The design of the top of a tall building will be of particular importance when considering the effect on the skyline. The design of the base of a tall building will also have a significant effect on the streetscape and near views.

The sustainable design and construction of the proposal. For all forms of development, god design means sustainable design. Tall buildings should set exemplary standards in design because of their high profile and local impact. Proposals should therefore exceed the latest regulations and planning policies for minimising energy use and reducing carbon emissions over the lifetime of the development. The long-term resource and energy efficiency of tall buildings enhanced if their design can be adapted over time.

The credibility of the design, both technically and financially. Tall buildings ate expensive to build, so it is important to be sure that the high standard of architectural quality is not diluted throughout the process of procurement, detailed design, and construction. Location, use, the commitment of the developer, and ability and expertise of the consultant team will have a fundamental bearing on the quality of the completed building.

The contribution to public space and facilities, both internal and external, that the development will make in the area, including the provision of a mix of uses, especially on the ground floor of towers, and the inclusion of these areas as part of the public realm. The development should interact with its surroundings at street level; it should contribute to safety, diversity, vitality, social engagement and 'sense of place'.

The effect on the local environment, including microclimate, overshadowing, night-time appearance, vehicle movement and the environment and amenity of those in the vicinity of the building.

The contribution made to the permeability of a site and the wider area; opportunities to offer improved accessibility, and, where appropriate, the opening up, of effective closure, of views to improve the legibility of the city and the wider townscape.

The provisions of a well-designed environment, both internal and external that contributes to the quality of life of those who use the buildings, including function, fitness for purpose and amenity.

76. In addition to these criteria all applications for tall buildings will be required to include an element of public art. The installation can be on or off site (subject to Council agreement) and should have significant public impact. Tall building applications will also be expected to make a significant contribution the improvement of the public realm in the vicinity of the site.

Airport Safety Regulations

77. Any location within Southend Borough will be within a few miles of the airport. In order to avoid any potential conflict it is recommended that the applicant / designer undertakes early consultation (before an application is submitted) with London Southend Airport on the principle of tall buildings and their impact on the flight paths.

Where tall buildings are proposed the applicant will be required to justify in the Design and Access Statement why the site can accommodate a tall building and why a departure from the height of the existing townscape is acceptable. The statement should also demonstrate how the different elements of the building work together and how it integrates with the surrounding area.

Planning applications for tall buildings should be accompanied by accurate and realistic representations of the appearance of the building which show the proposal in all significant views - near, middle and distant, including the public realm and streets around the base of the building. Photomontages should be used to show the building accurately rendered in a range of weather and light conditions (including night-time views); 3D graphics and/or models should be used to show how the building is modelled and how it fits into the local townscape. Shading diagrams and analysis will be required to show the impact on surrounding buildings and spaces. An Environmental Impact Assessment may also be required.

For further information on Sustainable Development see Section 3 and Appendices 5-8

For further information on Public Art see Section and Appendix 9

(1) Legibility and Building Language

'Planning should promote legibility through development that provides recognisable routes, intersections and landmarks to help people find their way around.' (By Design. CABE, 2000)

78. New development and public space should be easy to understand to enable the users to find their way around. In particular both pedestrian and vehicular entrances should be easily identified and visible from the public highway. Buildings and landscaping should be used to make the routes attractive, recognisable and distinctive to assist orientation.

79. The use of the building should be reflected within the architectural language. The old adage 'form follows function' is still relevant. The application of a style that is inappropriate and does not reflect the use will be discouraged. Developers should be clear that a building designed to look like a detached bungalow should be just that and not a disguise for flats, as there are significant impacts for the streetscene from doing this.

2.3.2 Relationship with Neighbours

(3) Overshadowing

80. New development should be designed so as not to unreasonably overshadow, block daylight or be unduly obtrusive to adjacent buildings and public spaces. Proposals that cause a significant loss of light to their neighbours will be considered unacceptable. Generally new buildings should respect the established building frontage lines, however, where the existing development is mixed (i.e. there is no clear building line), or to the rear, a more flexible approach to the position of the footprint may be acceptable, subject to having an acceptable impact on neighbouring properties.

Larger developments and those that break the established building line and grain may be required to show the degree of solar shading on neighbouring properties by means of a Sunlight / Daylighting Assessment - for further details see Section 6

(1) Overlooking and Privacy

81. Everybody wants privacy. All developments and extensions should be designed so as not to give rise to unreasonable or perceived overlooking or compromise the privacy of an existing building or private garden. This is particularly important in residential areas and proposals for new development will be expected to maintain an acceptable distance between boundaries and habitable rooms in surrounding properties.

82. Given the tight urban grain of most of the Borough, more inventive window designs, for example angled bays and north lights (large areas of roof lights), may offer alternative options for daylighting that do not compromise the privacy of neighbours. However, measures employed to prevent overlooking should not result in an unacceptable outlook for the new development (for example, habitable rooms served only by obscured glazed windows will not be considered acceptable). In some cases it may be necessary to look at alternative uses for a site.

(1) Noise

83. Noise can be a significant nuisance and its impact should be taken into account at the design stage. Where a mix of uses is proposed the internal layout should be carefully considered so that noise conflicts between the different occupiers do not cause a disturbance.

84. Development sites close to high noise generators (e.g. MOD testing areas, railways or main roads) should include extra mitigation measures to minimise the impact for the occupiers.

For further details see PPS23 Planning and Pollution Control

2.3.3 Accessibility and Community Safety

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 6

(2) Connectivity, Permeability and Integration

'Planning should promote accessibility and local permeability by making places that connect with each other and are easy to move through, putting people before traffic and integrating land uses and transport.' (By Design. CABE 2000)

85. The spatial arrangement of the development and its relationship with the surrounding area is key to success of any scheme. First and foremost new places should be designed for people, They should be vibrant, attractive and easy to move around and through. New development provides an opportunity to make new connections and improve pedestrian, cycle and vehicular access by creating new convenient links to the surrounding street network and local facilities. Lighting views and desire lines can help reinforce links.

86. All new streets should be designed to discourage speeding traffic without impeding the access for larger vehicles. High Quality traffic calming measures, such as junction treatments, landscaping and landscaped build outs, which restrict speeds, will be encouraged, where appropriate, in environmental rooms.

87. Streets should be landscaped, attractive, safe places for people to interact and not just for traffic and parking. The type of street should be appropriate for the location and could range from a main distributor road to a homezone.

See also Section 5.1.5 Highways

Pedestrian Permeability

88. It is all too common for even short journeys to be made by car and this trend is leading to unhealthy communities and environments. Larger developments will be encouraged to include public rights of way which connect to the surrounding built fabric and are attractive, safe and convenient. Routes through the development and to parking areas must have natural surveillance and be well lit. Hidden and dark corners should be avoided.

89. Well-connected and linked places encourage more sustainable modes of transport including walking and cycling. New pedestrian and cycle routes should be designed for the ease of walking and cycling. This includes minimal barriers, pollution and noise, high quality surfacing and landscaping and well-located crossing points. Given how flat the Borough is, it is considered that significant advances can be made in this area. The Council is also now a cycling demonstration town and developers will be expected to contribute to this physically or financially.

See also Section 3 Sustainability and Section 5.1.5 Highways Layout of Buildings and Spaces

Policy Link - Saved BLP Policy H5 - Residential Design and Layout Considerations

90. Achieving an efficient and effective building layout is key to a successful development. How the buildings and spaces in and around the site relate to each other and work together can make or break a development. This includes position of entrances, views and access routes across the site, relationship to existing buildings and natural features. On larger sites the creation of new and interesting spaces and links, and the integration between buildings is an important consideration.

91. For all sites maximising the potential for development is only one consideration and the site should be looked at in the context of the character and amenities of surrounding buildings, the provision of amenity space and parking, the setting of the new development, the ability to harness natural energy such as solar gain and the contribution that the development makes to the local environment.

See also Section 2.2.3 Character and Context, Section 2.3.2 Relationship with Neighbour, Section 3 Sustainable Development and Design, Section 3.4 Site Layout and Orientation and Section Secured by Design Access for All

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy CP3: Transport and Accessibility - 7
Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 6

92. Entry to any building, public space or landscape should be equally accessible to all users including pedestrians, cyclists, pushchairs, as well as those with specific needs. All proposals must comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Particular care needs to be given to the building approach, the entrance threshold, and the general landscape. This should be considered at the outset to avoid access ramps being tacked onto the development in an ad hoc way at the end of the design process or after the building has been built. Disabled access should not normally be segregated or inconvenient for the user.( i.e. not via a big detour through the basement).PPG13 also pushes this aspect by virtue of its intention to shift transport issues from mobility to accessibility.

93. Proposals for larger developments should consider consulting local access groups as part of their Statement of Community Involvement.

Improving Access to Existing Buildings

94. Improving the access to an existing building may not be as straightforward as designing a fully accessible new building and it is therefore important to consider all the options. An external ramp can be visually dominant and is not always the best option. Eliminating steps at the threshold, an internal ramp or a handrail may be a better option.

Emergency Access

95. All new developments must ensure that adequate provision is made for the access of all types of emergency vehicles. It is recommended that the applicant liaises directly with the emergency services to ascertain their requirements for a particular scheme and provide evidence of this with any planning application submission.

See also Section Internal Arrangements and Space Standards, Appendix4 Lifetime Home Standards and Section 5.1.2 Openings. For further information see Part M of the Building Regulations and the Disability Discriminations Act which can be viewed at

(2) Secured by Design

'In an environment which is well designed, attractive, clearly defined and well maintained people are likely to take pride in their surroundings, will tend to feel comfortable and safe and have a sense of shared ownership and responsibility.' (Secured by Design Principles, 2004)

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2; Development Principles - d
Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 6
Core Strategy Policy CP6: Community infrastructure - 5

96. All new development should be designed to reduce the opportunity for crime. The Council has a duty to do all that it reasonably can to prevent crime and disorder in its area. The following list highlights some recommendations designed to maximise public safety in urban areas:

Natural Surveillance and Permeability

97. Streets that are overlooked by windows and shopfronts are much friendlier and feel safer than blank facades. The main pedestrian entrance should be located on the street frontage so that it is visible from the public realm. Comings and goings further increase activity in the area. Public access routes that are not overlooked should be avoided. Parking areas can be particularly vulnerable to crime and should not be separated from pedestrian routes and natural surveillance unless they are secure.

98. Areas with good permeability have greater numbers of passers by and through traffic. Consequently activity levels are higher and natural surveillance is increased. Cul-de-sacs have much reduced levels of activity and are generally considered more vulnerable to crime.


99. Where CCTV is necessary it should be carefully integrated into the building design and not an afterthought. Cameras should be visible but not over dominant. In conservation areas in particular, CCTV must not be intrusive. From a design perspective attaching them to buildings or existing street furniture is a much preferable option than providing new free standing poles.

Neighbourhood Creation and Mix of Uses

100. Communities of mixed uses, mixed tenures and housing types attract people of a range of ages and social backgrounds. A more balanced community generally brings about a more sustained level of activity throughout the day and evening. Living above shops and offices gives increased protection for commercial properties by providing natural surveillance and activity outside of office hours and will be encouraged.

Sense of Place

New development should, where appropriate, create its own identity, reinforce established character and have a comfortable relationship with adjacent buildings, streets and public spaces. High quality urban design can engender civic pride and ownership of a public space and well selected robust materials tend to be more durable in the long term. (Consideration should be given to including anti-skateboard measures on all street furniture and planters as this has become a particular problem in the Borough.) Successful attractive streets and public spaces tend to be better used and subsequently have greater levels of activity and natural surveillance, discouraging anti-social behaviour. Good management and maintenance of public spaces will also discourage crime.

Lighting and Boundaries

101. Well-lit streets and spaces are clearly an integral part of any development and lighting schemes should be designed to enhance the quality of the spaces at night. Corners created by negative spaces should be avoided. It is essential to consider both the pedestrian and the motorist when designing lighting schemes. Energy efficient lighting must be used wherever possible.

102. Boundary walls and other types of enclosure can contribute to character and provide a buffer between public and private spaces. Security gates may be considered appropriate for vehicular entrances to flatted developments but they need to careful detailing. This will avoid negative architectural language and should only be used if there is not better alternative.

See also 'Secured by Design Initiative' at and Section 5.3.7 Security Shutters

(2)2.3.4 Streetscene

'Most people want to live somewhere distinctive and with character, which can be provided if housing is well designed' Better Neighbourhoods' (Making Higher Densities Work, CABE 2005)

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2: Development Principles - 9

103. Southend has its own individual character and each development site in the Borough is unique. Off the shelf standard designs and standard house types create soulless places with no local distinctiveness and will be considered inappropriate unless it can be demonstrated that they make a positive response to local character.

A Design Statement that demonstrates how the proposal fits into the wider townscape should accompany all major development schemes. See Section 6 Making an Application

(1) Focal Points, Gateways, Views and Vistas

104. Corner plots, sites that terminate vistas and those in prominent locations offer an opportunity for landmark buildings and gateways. A particularly high standard of design and detailing that reflects its status and importance, will be required on these sites.

105. Whenever possible existing historic landmark buildings should be protected and enhanced, and strategic views preserved. New development may also offer the possibility to open up views and vistas, which may add an extra dimension to the scheme and help integrate with the surroundings.

106. When planning development on a corner site the issue of two public frontages needs to be addressed. The context of the adjoining streets including scale, rhythm and form requires a single design solution, and development will be required to present a well designed and appropriately scaled elevations to both frontages.

(2) Proportions and Visual Cues

107. When designing a new building or an extension it is important that the development integrates with existing buildings. This is best done by identifying the positive characteristics and relationships formed by the existing buildings e.g. frontage lines, heights of ridges and eaves, proportions, materials etc. and respecting them in the design of the new development.

108. In some cases it may be desirable to contrast with the existing character. Whilst this can lead to more exciting possibilities, it generally requires greater design skill to achieve a successful scheme.

109. Larger sites in particular offer more of an opportunity to create a new area of distinct character especially where existing character is weak, although the wider context will still be an important consideration. In a similar vein, key buildings designed as landmarks, may also afford a unique style.

See Section 2.2.3 Character and Context

(2) Continuity and Enclosure

'Planning should promote continuity of street frontages and enclosure of space by development which clearly identifies private and public areas.' (By Design. CABE, 2000)

110. New development should continue established street patterns where they are an integral part of local character, particularly building frontage lines which determine the proportions of the street. Buildings that are uncharacteristically set back or set forward from their neighbours often look out of place and create negative spaces that are often neglected.

111. Wide open spaces and streets in urban areas can be desolate, unwelcoming and windswept. When creating a new place or development within the urban fabric the need for strong continuity and enclosure is key to creating places and spaces that are comfortable, have identity and provide community safety. On main transport routes where street widths have to be generous, trees and landscaping can be used to create secondary enclosure to give a more pedestrian scale. The enclosure of site boundaries is also important to provide a clear distinction between public and private areas, but such means of enclosure must complement the design of the development and not be unduly prominent or imposing.

(2) Public Realm and Urban Design

"New open spaces should improve the quality of the public realm through good design.' (PPG17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation)

'Local networks of high quality and well managed open space help create urban environments that are attractive, clean and safe and can play a major part in improving people's sense of wellbeing' (PPG17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation)

Public Open Space

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 8, 10
Core Strategy Policy CP7 - Sport, Recreation and Green Space - 2
Saved BLP Policy C15 - Retention of Open Spaces
Saved BLP Policy C13 - Street Furniture
Saved BLP Policy H5 - Residential Design and Layout Considerations

112. High quality, attractive, usable and well-maintained public open space can improve the quality of life for all, add value to a development and promote investment and tourism.

113. Larger developments for residential and mixed use schemes will normally be expected to include a meaningful area of public open space that can be used by the wider community. Where they are proposed public spaces should be one of the key focuses of the overall development. They should be large enough to be useable and serve the needs of the community., They must must be conveniently located and integral to the overall design and layout of the wider townscape.

114. The key to successful public open space is ownership, identity, a clear function for the community and management. A well designed open space can play a significant role in the creation of sustainable communities. Any provision for public space must be designed to ensure the area is overlooked by adjoining development, not positioned against rear boundaries with limited natural surveillance. Wherever possible, children's play areas and public art should be provided. In all cases they should be high quality, durable and an integral part of the design.

115. There is a general presumption against development which leads to the loss of existing open space.

116. New public open spaces will be expected to make a positive contribution to local biodiversity (e.g. where possible including native plant species and features such as ponds and hedgerows). Retaining existing trees and landscaping adds instant maturity to the space and has considerable benefits for local wildlife. New public open spaces and landscaped areas should also seek to link in with the Borough's existing greenways and habitat links. Larger developments should also investigate the opportunities for including sustainable development (e.g. sustainable urban drainage systems or underground heating systems) as part of the public open space.

For Further information see Section 3 Sustainable Development and Design and Section 5.1.3 Landscaping

(1) Public Art

'Works of art ... give identity and enhance the sense of place ... and should be integrated into the design process at the earliest possible stage' (By Design, CABE, 2000)

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 4

117. High quality public art adds richness and identity to a place, can provide a landmark or gateway for the town and promotes regeneration and tourism. Southend is committed to becoming the cultural hub of the Thames Gateway South Essex and this includes developing public art for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.

118. On larger sites in particular, there is often the opportunity to use sculpture and light to create a focal point and in such cases developments will be required to contribute to public art in some way, either by commissioning a whole piece or by contributing a percentage of the development value to public art within the Borough. The requirement will be assessed on a site by site basis and where applicable, will be secured through a legal agreement. Some form of commitment for care and maintenance is usually required.

119. Where an installation is proposed, the design must be agreed by the Council and it should either be located on the development site, or nearby where it can be readily seen and experienced by the public (e.g. in a public open space).

120. If the site or development is not considered to be suitable for public art or there is no convenient publically accessible location nearby a fanatical contribution to public art can be made as an alternative. The Council will then commission the art as and when funds allow. Typically, a contribution of 1% of the development costs should be made for public art. The exact figure will be agreed with the Council on a site by site basis.

Further Information can be found in Appendix 9 Provision of Public Art as Part of New Development - Developer Guidelines and Southend's Public Art Strategy which sets out the procedures, maintenance and management for public art in the Borough. The requirement for public art in new development is set out in the Planning Obligations DPD.

(4)2.3.5 Intensification

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy
Core Strategy CP8: Sport Recreation and Green Space

121. One of the key thrusts of Government Policy is to make the most effective use of land. The Core Strategy sets out how this will be applied to Southend given the limited land availability and infrastructure constraints. The most appropriate spatial strategy for future development therefore is to maximise the town's strengths and opportunities by focusing the majority of growth and regeneration on key regeneration areas, in particularly the Town Centre, Seafront (subject to the safeguarding of the biodiversity importance of the foreshore) and certain 'Priority Urban Areas' (areas identified in the Core Strategy as areas which have the potential to make a significant contribution to regeneration and growth such as district centres, shopping centres and industrial/employment areas (see Policy KP1)), including existing commercial/industrial areas. It is therefore anticipated that the majority of the intensification of the Borough, though the provision of flats will occur in these areas. Outside these areas the intensification of development should be limited.

122. There are four ways that intensification can occur - redevelopment of existing buildings, backland development, infill development and conversions. The Council will determine on a site by site basis whether the proposed intensification is acceptable in principle, particularly in relation to local character and capacity.

(1) Redevelopment of Existing Buildings

123. Redevelopment is defined to be the replacement of existing buildings with new buildings. When this is proposed the new scheme may be of a similar scale and accommodation mix to the original building but often the proposed seeks a more intense development either in terms of a larger scaled building or a greater number of smaller units.

124. Where this form of intensification arises the Council will decide whether the proposed intensification is appropriate for the area. Outside the town centre, seafront and priority urban areas, significant amounts of intensification will not normally be considered appropriate.

125. When considering redevelopment, the merits of the existing building should always be considered as an alternative to redevelopment. In many cases the existing building makes a positive contribution to local townscape and refurbishment may be a viable and often cheaper option.

See also Section 3.1 Redevelopment or Refurbishment

(1) Backland Development

Policy Link - Saved BLP Policy H10 - Backland Development

126. Backland sites are defined to be landlocked areas between existing development, usually with a single and often narrow access onto an existing street. They encompass areas such as disused garage courts, vacant sites and other odd shaped areas left over between housing blocks which may offer an opportunity for redevelopment. Where acceptable in principle, such development can take advantage of access to local facilities and infrastructure, provide natural surveillance and generally lift and area which may be susceptible to crime and disorder.

127. Whether a backland site is suitable for development will be decided on a site by site basis. In some cases the site may be too constrained or the principle of development may be out of character. This particularly applies where the grain, density and openness of the area is uniform which is likely to be the case in many of the Borough's conservation areas. It is recommended that the principle of development of a backland site is agreed with the Council at an early stage in the design process.

128. Where backland development is considered acceptable in principle, one of the key considerations in the design process should be protecting the privacy of adjoining residents. This means that new backland development should not give rise to any overlooking (or realistically perceived overlooking) of neighbouring properties or their private gardens.

129. In addition, the site itself must be of a sufficient size and shape to accommodate practical internal space, usable amenity space and sufficient off street parking for the new occupants. Squeezing too much development into to a small or awkward a site will compromise the quality of life for the occupier and the surrounding residents, and may be considered over development.

130. Access will also be of key importance and should be designed to be safe and avoid creating unreasonable noise disturbance or inconvenience to neighbouring properties. All development must ensure that sufficient access is provided for the emergency services and that appropriate provisions are made for waste collection.

131. The development on these sites is likely to require a unique design solution that responds to the individual constraints of the site and protects the amenity of the neighbours.

See also Section 2.2.3 Character and Context, Section Density, Section Private Access Ways and Section Infill

Development of Existing Rear and Side Gardens (including Corner Backland Sites)

132. This type of development is different from backland development where often there has in the past been a building or buildings, gardens are by their nature open spaces that have not previously been developed. Preserving gardens is important as open space between and around dwellings, as amenity space for the dwelling, as rainwater soak up areas and as areas for wildlife.

133. There is a general presumption against the redevelopment of existing private gardens especially where they are a significant part of local character (for example in the Burges Estate in Thorpe Bay where the front and side gardens are key to its open leafy character). Piecemeal development of gardens in areas of strong uniform character would disrupt the grain of development and will be considered unacceptable. In exceptional cases, where the local character is more informal and where there are no issues of space and overlooking, subdivision of existing garden areas may be acceptable in principle. Infill

Policy Link - Saved BLP Policy H6 - Protecting Residential Character - i

134. Infill sites are development sites on the street frontage between existing buildings. These areas are usually spaces left over after earlier development or the redevelopment of small industrial units or garages. The size of the site together with an analysis of local character and grain will determined whether these sites are suitable for development. In some cases the site may be too small or narrow to accommodate a completely new dwelling (including usable amenity space and parking) and trying to squeeze a house onto the site would significantly compromise its design quality and be detrimental to neighbouring properties and local character. In these circumstances, unless an exceptional design solution can be found, infill development will be considered unacceptable. Other options, such as an extension to an adjacent building or a garage may be more achievable. However, in certain situations, where the density, grain and openness of an area are integral to its special character, infill development of any kind will not be appropriate in principle.

135. Where it is considered acceptable in principle the key to successful integration of these sites into the existing character is to draw strong references from the surrounding buildings. For example, maintaining the scale, materials, frontage lines and rooflines of the neighbouring properties reinforces the rhythm and enclosure of the street. This does not necessarily mean replicating the local townscape, although this may be an option.

136. Where the local character is for terraces or semi-detached properties, joining the new development with one or two of its neighbours should be considered. This enables greater design options, a more efficient use of space and reinforces local character. Whether the design matches the character of the surrounding buildings or is distinctive, all infill developments should be of a high quality and aim to enrich the streetscene.

137. In the historic environment, where the density, grain and openness of the area contribute to its special character, infill development will not be appropriate.

See also Section Types of Extension - Garages

(4) Conversions

Policy Link -

Saved BLP Policy H6 - Protecting Residential Character - ii

Saved BLP Policy C3 - Conversion of Historic Buildings

Conversion of Redundant Commercial Buildings

138. Changing retail and industrial trends and increasing demand for residential accommodation has led to an upturn in the conversion of shops and workshops to flats or houses. Whether this type of development is acceptable in principle will depend, among other things, on its location and relationship with neighbouring properties, the viability of its original use, amenity space and parking arrangements. Where acceptable in principle, the detailed design should take particular care to preserve any special character the existing building may have and to complement the neighbouring properties and the wider streetscene.

139. In the case of shopfront conversions, where only the ground floor is altered, strong references should be drawn from upper storeys - in particular proportions, structure, design and alignment of windows and materials. In these cases there are two options - where detailing from the original use of the building (e.g. fascias, cornices, and pilasters) may be integral to the character of the building, it should be retained as features in the conversion. However, where this would be of no benefit to the character of the existing building or the streetscene removing all traces of the shopfront can be a better option. Each application for change of use is unique and will be judged on its merits.

140. The conversion of industrial units in residential areas can give rise to overlooking problems for adjacent residential properties. These schemes will often require an innovative design solution.

See also Planning Advice Note 3 Retail to Residential which is available on the Council's website and see Section 2.3.2 Relationship with Neighbours and Section Backland Development

Conversions of Houses into Flats

Policy Link -

Saved BLP Policy H7 - The Formation of Self-Contained Flats

Saved BLP Policy H3 - Retention of small family dwelling houses

141. The conversion of single dwellings into two or more flats will only be acceptable where it does not place additional strain on the local amenity or harm the character of the existing building or the wider area and provides reasonable accommodation - i.e. Building for Life Standards. There is also a requirement to protect the stock of existing single family dwelling houses. Conversions of premises to units with a floor area of less than 125m2 will not be permitted.

142. Where conversions are acceptable in principle the design must ensure that the character of the original building and the street is retained or enhanced. Where a house is converted into flats the original main entrance should be preserved and entrances to the individual units should be located within the entrance hall. Fenestration proportions, styles and materials must be retained between ground and first floors and amenity space must be either be divided between the individual flats or shared. Decoration between the storeys can be difficult to ensure continuity therefore the design process should seek to limit the potential for a mixed elevation. One of the biggest problems with conversions is providing adequate parking. Parking provision should not be to the detriment of the streetscene or existing boundary treatment. (Note: Sound insulation and separation needs to be explored in detail early in the design).

143. Applications for the conversion of houses into flats that include external staircases as a means of escape must have minimal impact on the streetscene, must not give rise to unreasonable overlooking of neighbouring properties or compromise openings at ground floor level.

Conversion of Historic Buildings

144. It is recognised that in some instances historic buildings become redundant and are no longer viable for their original use. Whilst the original use of the building is usually preferred, especially for listed buildings, it is accepted that, in some cases, a sensitive conversion is the best option. Where this arises early discussions with the Council are recommended, first of all to establish an acceptable alternative use and then to ensure that the conversion does not compromise the special character of the building. In most cases the Council would prefer to see historic buildings in alternative uses rather than lying vacant and deteriorating. The key to a successful conversion of a historic building is to celebrate its history not mask it.

See also Environmental Health Guidance - Creation of Residential Dwellings

Section Two Checklist

Site Assets

Have the site's assets been identified and maximised in an imaginative way? Does the scheme exploit existing buildings, landscape or topography?*

Character and Appearance

Does the development's design and use complement local character? How does it respond to its context? Does the building contribute positively to street character? Does the design draw reference from local character i.e. scale, rhythm, frontage lines...?

Does the scheme feel like a place with distinctive character?* Do the buildings exhibit architectural quality?* Has the thinking behind the appearance of the scheme been explained in the Design and Access Statement?

Does the language of architecture reflect the use, scale and location of the building(s)? Is the design specific to the scheme?*

Scale, Height and Massing

Is the scale, height, massing, layout and density of the proposal compatible with local townscape and appropriate for the location?

Does the development comply with lifetime homes standards?

Where appropriate, has the development created a new high quality landmark building for the Borough? Does it relate well to the skyline?

Layout and Integration

Do the building layouts make it easy to find your way around?* Are the streets defined by a well-structured building layout? Does the building layout take priority over the roads and car parking, so that the highways do not dominate?*

Is it attractive, comfortable, legible, safe and easy to navigate? Does the scheme integrate with existing roads, paths and surrounding development?* Have opportunities for creating new links into the surrounding network of streets and spaces been taken? Are the links and entrances visible and convenient? Have negative and dead frontages been avoided?

Are the streets pedestrian, cycle and vehicle friendly?* Does the design address the needs of all including pedestrians, cyclists and those with specific needs?


Does the proposal respect the amenities of the neighbours?

Public Spaces

Where required, is public space well designed (usable, flexible and durable) and does it have suitable management arrangements in place?*

Have colour, pattern, decoration, texture, public art and landscaping been used, where appropriate, to enrich the sensory experience and create a sense of place?

Secured by Design

Are public spaces and pedestrian routes overlooked and do they feel safe?* Do they have good lighting?

*Questions taken from the Department for Communities and Local Government Housing Quality Assessment 'Building for Life', adopted as a Core Output Indicator in 2008

For instructions on how to use the system and make comments, please see our help guide.
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