Design and Townscape Guide - Refresh 2009 (Consultation Draft)

Ended on the 30 April 2009

Section 3 - Sustainable Development and Design

'Good design ensures attractive, usable, durable and adaptable places and is a key element in achieving sustainable development. Good design is indivisible from good planning.' (PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development)

'Local authorities should promote resource and energy efficient buildings; community heating schemes, the use of combined heat and power, small scale renewable and low carbon energy schemes in developments; the sustainable use of water resources; and the use of sustainable drainage systems in the management of run-off.' (PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development)

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2; Development Principles
Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 1

145. The aims of the Council in delivering true sustainability are broader than ecology and the reduction of energy consumption. Sustainable development should provide a better quality of life for everyone, now and in the future. The concept of sustainable development has been around for a number of decades, its main aims are defined in the Government's 'A Better Quality of Life (1999) as:

  • Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment
  • Social progress that meets the needs of everyone
  • Effective protection of the environment
  • Prudent use of natural resources

146. A significant proportion of UK energy consumption and CO2 emissions comes from building construction and operation or from travelling between buildings. Therefore the planning and building process should aim to minimise the environmental impacts of buildings, or positively influence the social and economic impacts of them, which will contribute to sustainable development.

147. However, it should be noted that in some instances, for example alterations to historic buildings, sustainability objectives may be in direct conflict with other planning and design criteria and the extent to which the development can follow the sustainability guidelines may be more limited.

148. All applications should make some contribution to sustainable development. This may involve a number of different techniques and technologies depending on the characteristics of the development.

149. The following planning considerations in particular are key factors of sustainable development and new developments should be designed to embrace the aims of sustainable development, without compromising the overall design quality.

Major applications are required to submit a Sustainability Appraisal as part of application which should include an appraisal on the opportunities for carbon reduction, carbon neutral building and sustainable technologies. Also see Section 6 - Making an Application

(12) 3.1 Redevelopment or Refurbishment?

150. Refurbishment and reuse of existing buildings usually requires significantly less energy than building new ones and therefore supports the aims of sustainable development. This option should be seriously considered particularly where the existing building makes a positive contribution to local character or where it can form the basic building block of a new development. This should always be the first option in the historic environment.

(4) 3.2 Resource Minimisation

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2: Development Principles - 11a
Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 3

151. Resource (and waste) minimisation is a key part of sustainable development and new developments can make a significant contribution in this area both during construction and in their operation. Resource minimisation involves reducing the amount of energy used (and waste generated) and the efficient use of natural resources such as water and energy. Water in particular is scarce in the Eastern Region and new development in the Borough must have particular regard to this and be designed to make efficient use of water wherever possible.

152. Significant performance improvements can be achieved very cheaply if they are considered from the outset rather than in an ad hoc nature. The following list identifies what should be considered at each stage in the development process:

Design stage

  • Orientate the buildings to maximise daylight and reduce the need for artificial light
  • Design for recycling including water
  • Consider designing modular components which can be manufactured off site Design to Lifetime Homes Standards to maximise adaptability of units for future occupiers

Construction stage

  • Use high quality, robust materials which tend to last longer
  • Use sustainably sourced materials. Use local suppliers and local labour
  • Consider recycling demolition waste materials in the construction of the new development - e.g. as the sub structure of new roads
  • Operate the Considerate Contractors Scheme
  • Consider planting more trees to offset pollution during construction

Operation Stage

  • Monitor water and energy usage
  • Provide facilities within each unit for recycling and composting
  • Implement Travel Plan policies

Resource Minimisation in Historic Buildings

153. It is usually possible to improve the energy saving performance of historic buildings with the subtle use of materials or systems that make a significant difference without altering the character of the building. However, inappropriate materials and installation can cause damage to the historic fabric of a building. The choice of materials and installation will need to carefully considered. Even small measures such as installing draught proofing on the windows and energy efficient light bulbs can make a significant difference and will not affect the historic fabric of listed buildings. It is always advisable to discuss proposals with the Council beforehand.

154. Where extensions are proposed to historic building, up-to-date performance standards should be integrated to the design wherever possible.

Examples of various resource minimisation options are outlined in Appendix 6. All new development should seek to include as many of these options as possible and details should be outlined in the Sustainability Appraisal.

3.3 Flexibility

'Planning should promote adaptability through development that can respond to changing social, technological and economic conditions.' (By Design. CABE, 2000)

155. It is essential that new buildings are able to adapt to the changing needs and trends of society otherwise they may become obsolete and impractical well within their life span. Flexible buildings allow the occupiers to personalise the buildings to suit their working and living requirements, and increase the variety of available uses. Buildings that incorporate mixed uses and provide the facility for live work units will reduce the need for travel. Most developments located in district and local centres should include commercial development particularly at ground level.

156. New commercial buildings in particular, should be designed to have flexible internal layouts to enable the business to grow within itself e.g. be subdivided to provide a range of unit sizes.

Also see Section 3.10 Mix of Uses

(1)3.4 Site Layout and Orientation

157. The site layout and orientation of buildings can play an important role in creating a more sustainable building. For example buildings orientated within 30 degrees of south and well spaced benefit most from passive solar gain and have maximum daylight. This reduces the need for artificial heating and lighting and a balance should be struck between the efficient use of the site and the benefits of solar access. Other aspects of the site such as local microclimate, exposure, natural shading, atmospheric pollution, ground water levels and drainage need also to be assessed, ensuring that the site's maximum potential is realised.

3.5 Built Form

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 3, 4

158. The actual built form and detailing of a new building should also play a significant role in promoting sustainable development. For example, buildings can incorporate sustainable technologies such as natural ventilation and locally sourced and recycled materials. The lifespan and ongoing maintenance of buildings also has implications for sustainability. Developments built from high quality materials not only look better, but generally last longer and require less maintenance. When constructing new buildings it is important to ensure that both the internal and external layouts make the best use of the space available and avoid the creation of unusable and negative spaces.

(8)3.6 Water Recycling and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2; Development Principles - 11b

159. All new developments should be designed to minimise water consumption. Larger developments sites in particular, should also aim to include rainwater harvesting, water recycling technologies and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS).

Water Recycling

160. Water recycling of some form has the potential to be incorporated into all new development in some way. There are three options:

  • Rainwater harvesting - water collected from roofs via traditional guttering, through down pipes to an underground tank(s). It is then delivered on demand direct to toilets, washing machine and outside tap use. More than 50% of mains water can be substituted by rainwater. Rainwater can also be harvested by installing a water butt.
  • Grey water recycling - involves the reuse of wash water (from washing machines, dishwashers, baths and showers). It involves diverting waste water into tanks where it is passed through a filtering system and then redirected to an outside tap or used to flush toilets or for washing machines.
  • Black water recycling goes a step beyond grey water recycling in that everything that goes down the drains (including toilet water) is recycled through more complex treatment tanks or reed beds and is reused.

161. All new development should look to include some form of water recycling wherever possible.

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

162. Current Government Policy requires developments to return as much storm water to the ground or recycling system as close as possible to the source. This can be achieved by employing the principles of SUDS. SUDS provide an alternative approach to managing runoff from buildings and hardstandings. They mimic natural drainage patterns, can reduce surface water runoff, encourage recharge of groundwater and provide amenity and biodiversity enhancements through a range of different techniques. Larger developments will therefore be expected to employ some SUDS techniques as part of the overall scheme.

163. When selecting a SUDS it is important to consider quality, quantity and amenity design criteria equally. There may not be a single solution, several options may meet the design criteria and technical judgement will be needed.

164. An early initial assessment of the site will be required to enable the site specific requirements for the drainage system to be established and used to inform the wider scheme design. The initial assessment should include a soil investigation report to determine the suitability of the site for SUDS. This will also establish the level of the water table and its susceptibility to seasonable variations and tidal pressures, which are significant in areas such as Shoeburyness.

165. The Council's primary concerns are associated with highway drainage and the need to remove surface water as quickly as possible from the carriageway. In residential areas, roof water and pavement runoff could be dealt with in a different and separate system to the carriageway. It is possible and may be desirable for several systems may be employed on one site.

166. All SUDS schemes should consider reuse of the run off (grey water recycling) and where possible this should be designed into the system. This may include basins and ponds for storage and use for irrigation.

167. The main SUDS techniques are:

  • Prevention (Minimising runoff) - This involves minimising paved areas and minimising directly connected paved areas. Rainwater recycling can remove runoff from the drainage system altogether.
  • Filter Strips and Swales - These are vegetated surface features (swales are long shallow channels whilst filter strips are gently sloping areas of ground) that drain water evenly off impermeable areas. These are often integrated with the landscaping scheme.
  • Permeable and Porous Surfaces and Filter Drains - These are devices that have a volume of permeable material below ground to store surface runoff. The water passes through the surface to the permeable fill.(Note..both the surfacing and the base need to be permeable) The water can then be disposed of by either infiltration, underdrain or pumped out to be used as grey water recycling or into the sewer system after the storm has passed and there is spare capacity.
  • Infiltration Devices - these drain water directly into the ground. They may be used at source or the runoff can be conveyed through a pipe or swale to the infiltration area. They are completely below ground level. They allow the removal of solid and increase the soils natural drainage ability.
  • Basins, Reed Beds and Ponds - These are areas designed to store large volumes of surface runoff. They can be either normally dry areas that become wetland such as floodplains or balancing ponds with spare capacity to enable them to hold more water when it rains. These can often be combined with creating habitats for wildlife.
  • Green Roofs - These are vegetated roofs or roofs with vegetated spaces. The benefits of green roofs include reduced air pollution, improved biodiversity, improved thermal performance and reduced surface water run-off.
  • Water Recycling (see above)

It is important that consideration is given to the long term maintenance of SUDS and in all cases a SUDS maintenance agreement will be required.

See also Appendix 6 which gives examples of resources minimisation options including building design techniques.

3.7 Renewable Power Generation

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2; Development Principles - 11

168. Core Strategy Policy KP2 requires that 10% of the total energy needs of all new development must be provided from renewable sources on site (and /or decentralised renewable and recycled energy sources). This will help to achieve a Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 or an 'excellent' BREEAM rating which the Council aspires to for all new development. There are many options available for renewable power generation, however, the right combination will depend on what is most appropriate for the site, size and type of unit. . (Please note all renewable systems can be intermittent in their energy delivery, therefore it is important to have a range of technologies or backup from the national grid). Options for renewable power should be considered at the beginning of the design process to enable them to become an integral part of the design of the scheme. The applicant will be required to demonstrate how this requirement will be met as part of the planning application supporting documentation. A specialist consultant may be required for larger schemes.

Renewable Power Generation and the Historic Environment

169. The application of renewable energy technologies on listed buildings, locally listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas will be carefully considered. The affect on the appearance of the building and its setting will be a key consideration. Whether the fabric of the building will be able to support the technology (for example the additional weight and forces of a micro wind turbine) will also need to be justified. Applicants should consider all the options and choose the most appropriate type of renewable energy generation for each situation. For example, solar panels may be acceptable where they can be hidden in a roof valley and technologies such as ground source heat pumps can also have minimal visual impact. In conservation areas and locally listed buildings, the public view of the building takes precedent over elevations that have no public impact. It may be possible to site technologies at the rear where they cannot readily be seen. For listed buildings the considerations will be more complex.

Options for renewable power generation can be found in Appendix7.. New development should include a variety of these and they should be outlined, in detail, in the Sustainability Appraisal.

For further information on the Code for Sustainable Homes and Appendices 5 and on the following websites

Further information on BREEAM can be found at

(3)3.8 Code for Sustainable Homes

'Building a home to the Code means that sustainability is designed in. By building to Code standards, we can make Britain's homes more environmentally friendly for the future.' Greener Homes for the Future: Code for Sustainable Homes Publication (DCLG, 2008)

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2: Development Principles - 11a

170. The Code for Sustainable Homes measures the sustainability of a home in the following areas:

  • Energy and CO2 Emissions
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Surface Water Run-off
  • Waste
  • Pollution
  • Heath and Wellbeing
  • Management
  • Ecology

171. The Code uses a sustainability rating system, indicated by 'stars', to communicate the overall sustainability performance of a home. A home can achieve a sustainability rating from one (*) to six (******) stars depending on the extent to which it has achieved Code standards. One star (*) is the entry level - above the level of the Building Regulations; and six stars (******) is the highest level - reflecting exemplar development in sustainability terms:

  • 1* homes will be 10% more energy efficient and 20% more water efficient than most new homes and may also have some of the other features such as providing office work space with communication links within the home, secure cycle storage or greater security features.
  • 3* homes would be 25% more energy efficient and have many more sustainable features than a 1* home.
  • 6* homes would be highly sustainable and over the course of the year their net carbon emissions would be zero. Needing over 90% of the points available, a 6* home would include most of the sustainability features in the Code.

172. Code homes encourage their owners to live a more sustainable lifestyle and are built in a more efficient way, using materials from sustainable sources. This creates less waste and reduced running costs.


173. The Council has now signed up to the Nottingham Declaration and is therefore committed to tackling climate change and significantly reducing carbon emissions across the Borough. The aim being to achieve the Government's plan to make all new homes zero carbon by 2016. The building sector is a major contributor to carbon production and by ensuring that we build better insulated and more efficient homes, and by promoting renewable energy sources the Council can honour this commitment. We will therefore be requiring that all new homes be built to a minimum of Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 with a view to moving towards Code Level 4 over the next few years. This requirement is in line with Core Strategy Policies KP2 and CP4. The Code Level achieved is a material consideration in any planning application. An explanation of how the Code Level will be reached should be included within the planning application supporting documentation.

An overview of the assessment criteria for the Code for Sustainable Homes can be found in Appendix 5. Full technical details can be found at Further information on the Nottingham Declaration can be found at

3.9 Non-Residential Buildings - BREEAM Assessment

174. The sustainability performance of non-residential building can be measured by using the BREEAM Environmental Assessment Method. BREEAM assesses the performance of buildings in the following areas:

  • Energy Use
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Pollution
  • Heath and Wellbeing
  • Management
  • Ecology
  • Transport
  • Land Use

175. Developers and designers are encouraged to consider these issues at the earliest opportunity to maximise their chances of achieving a high BREEAM rating. Credits are awarded in each area according to performance. A set of environmental weightings then enables the credits to be added together to produce a single overall score. The building is then rated on a scale of pass, good, very good or excellent and a certificate awarded, which can be used for promotional purposes.


176. The Council has now signed up to the Nottingham Declaration and is therefore committed to tackling climate change and significantly reducing carbon emissions across the Borough. The building sector is a major contributor to carbon production and by ensuring that we build better insulated and more efficient homes and by promoting renewable energy sources the Council can honour this commitment. We will therefore be requiring that all new commercial buildings to achieve a BREEAM 'very good' rating (or equivalent) with a view to moving towards an 'excellent' rating (or equivalent) over the next few years. This requirement is in line with Core Strategy Policies KP2 and CP4. The Code Level achieved is a material consideration in any planning application. An explanation of how the Code Level will be reached should be included within the planning application supporting documentation.

For further information see Further information on the Nottingham Declaration can be found at

(1)3.10 Mix of Uses

'Policies should promote mixed use developments for locations that allow the creation of linkages between different uses and can thereby create more vibrant places' (PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Communities)

'The characteristics of industry and commerce are evolving continuously, and many businesses can be carried out in rural and residential areas without causing unacceptable disturbance through increased traffic, noise, pollution or other adverse affects.' (PPG4: Industrial, Commercial Development and Small Firms)

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 2
Core Strategy Policy CP8: Dwelling Provision - 5, 6

177. A mixed use scheme can be defined as a layering of uses within one building or a mix of uses in one development or neighbourhood.

178. The benefits of mixed use development include:

  • Giving priority to employment generating uses such as retail and offices at lower levels.
  • Adding vibrancy and vitality to the streetscene and variety and interest to the townscape.
  • Reducing the need to travel to shops, workplaces and community facilities.
  • Creating mixed and balanced communities.
  • Greater community safety through increased natural surveillance throughout the day and night.

179. Reducing the need to travel in an important objective of Sustainable Development and mixed use development will be encouraged in the Borough's town and local centres and public transport corridors, where it is important to give priority to employment generating uses, particularly at ground level. The mix of uses will depend on local character, need and location.

3.11 Maximising Travel Choice

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2: Development Principles - 8
Core Strategy Policy CP3: Transport and Accessibility - 2
Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 6

180. All new development should provide links to a range of transport networks and facilities so that the users have the widest possible travel options. This should include creating a safe and attractive environment for pedestrians and cyclists (including covered and secure cycle storage as part of any development) and enhancing public transport links wherever possible.

181. Travel to work accounts for a significant amount of car journeys and therefore large commercial developments are required to produce a Travel Plan to demonstrate how the principles of sustainable development will be incorporated.

For further information on Travel Plans see Section 6 Making an Application

(5)3.12 Biodiversity

'Development proposals provide many opportunities for building-in beneficial biodiversity or geological features as part of good design.' (PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation)

'Biodiversity offers an opportunity to link together various aspects of your development proposal. These include open space, recreation, sustainable transport links such as footpaths and cycle ways, sustainable design and construction, sustainable drainage and landscape.' (Essex Biodiversity Project)

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy KP2: Development Principles - 11e
Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 2, 9, 10

182. New development should recognise the ecological importance of including wildlife features and open space as part of their design. Trees and plants play an important role in the biodiversity of the Borough as they can provide food, shelter, nesting sites and safe corridors of travel for a variety of wildlife including mammals, birds and insects.

183. The existing biodiversity value of each development site should be assessed at the outset to identify any areas of significant biodiversity value. Newly created habitats can take years to flourish, so established semi-natural habitats should be retained as much as possible within new development. Some UK species (e.g. bats and badgers) have been afforded special protection by law and, where they occur, exclusion zones or special mitigation measures may be required. In these cases, advice from a specialist consultant must be sought.

184. New areas of habitat should be connected to existing green spaces and where possible, located to provide a missing link in the network. Native plant species, in particular species suitable for a coastal environment, are generally preferred as they are more appropriate for local wildlife. Species which are drought tolerant and requiring little maintenance are also considered a more sustainable option.

185. The expansion of our habitat links and greenways is one of the objectives of the Local Development Framework and landscaping schemes which connect with the Boroughs existing green corridors will be welcomed. Proposals will be assessed for their contribution to biodiversity.

Examples of how development can contribute to local biodiversity can be found in Appendix 8. An Environmental Statement will be required for certain sites. For further information see Section 6 Making an Application.

For further information on Biodiversity in the Borough see the Southend-on-Sea Biodiversity Action Plan (2003) and Essex Biodiversity Project. For information on protected species visit

(2)3.13 Affordable Housing

'High quality and inclusive design should create well-mixed and integrated developments which avoid segregation and have well-planned public spaces that bring people together and provide opportunities for physical activity and recreation.' (PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development)

'Proposals for affordable housing should reflect the size and type of affordable housing required.' (PPS3: Housing)

186. In order to achieve sustainable communities we must have a good and well integrated blend of different housing types and tenures in our residential areas. Affordable housing is a key part of this mix.

187. There will always be a demand for affordable housing in the Borough and larger residential developments will be expected to contribute to the supply of affordable homes in accordance with the Council's policies and according to the needs of the local community. This will be delivered through appropriate legal agreements.


Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy CP8 - 3a, 3b

188. Core Strategy Policy CP8 sets out the requirement for affordable housing in new residential development schemes. Proposals of 10-49 units or 0.3-1.99 hectares will be required to provide not less than 20% affordable housing or key worker provision. Larger proposals will be required to provide not less than 30% affordable housing or key worker provision.


189. Affordable housing should be indistinguishable from adjacent private housing. The integration between the affordable housing and the private units within any singular scheme should be seamless and not of a lower quality, including the quality of landscaping, amenity space, location, views, materials and parking provision. All affordable housing units must be built to 'Lifetime Homes Standards'.

For further details on Lifetime Homes Standards see Appendix 4


190. It is recommended that where developments involve affordable housing, a registered social landlord should be engaged at an early stage in the development process in order to establish a formal working relationship, ensure specific requirements are inherent within the design and to provide the most appropriate size and type of unit. This is a more straight forward process now, given the changes to funding streams for Registered Social Landlords and so early contact is essential.

A list of local housing associations and registered social landlords can be found on the Council's website

Section 3 Checklist

Sustainable Development

How does the scheme embrace the principles of sustainability and diversity?

Has the proposal been designed to make efficient use of resources including energy and water?

Has the scheme made use of advances in construction or technology that enhance its performance, quality and attractiveness?*

Resource Minimisation and Built Form

Have recycled or sustainably sourced materials been used in construction?

Do buildings or spaces outperform statutory minima, such as building regulations?*

Does the scheme have permeable surfaces for parking areas and new roads?

Have other SUDS techniques been adopted?

What level of 'Code for Sustainable Homes' or BREEAM Assessment rating has been achieved?


Does the development have any features that reduce its environmental impact?*

Have renewable power generation options been considered and included wherever possible?

How does the development meet the requirement for 10% of energy needs to be generated on site?


How will the building be able to adapt to changing needs of occupiers?

Do internal spaces and layout allow for adaption, conversion or extension?*

Does the Development meet Lifetime Homes Standards?

Mix of Uses

Does the proposed use / mix of uses integrate with the surrounding neighbourhood?

Does the development provide community facilities such as school, park, shops, pubs or cafes?* (Mixed Use)


Where provided does the public open space make a positive contribution to the community, biodiversity, habitat links and the greenways network throughout the Borough?

Travel Choice

Does the development have easy access to adequate public transport?*

Affordable Housing

Is there an accommodation mix that reflects the needs and aspirations of the local community?*

Is there a tenure mix that reflects the needs of the local community?*

Is affordable housing seamlessly integrated into the scheme?

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