Design and Townscape Guide - Refresh 2009 (Consultation Draft)

Ended on the 30 April 2009
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Section Five - Detailed Requirements for Good Design

(3)5.1 Common Issues for all Types of Development

251. Having identified a development site and looked at the broader context, as outlined in Section 2 - Design Principles, the detailed design needs to progress, analysing all possible options.

(1)5.1.1 Materials and Detailing

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

252. Choice of materials can make a huge difference to the success of a building. Sympathetic materials, whether matching or contrasting, can help to integrate a new building or extension with the character of the surrounding townscape.

253. The design of the building, as well as its context will influence the choice of materials. Modern styles lend themselves to modern materials such as render, glass and cladding systems, whereas traditional designs that replicate the character of the existing streetscape are most successful where they match closely the materials and detailing, including adopting traditional building techniques, of the adjacent or parent buildings. In some areas such as the Burges Estate in Thorpe Bay the materials (rough cast render and plain clay tiles) are key to its special character.

254. In all circumstances high quality, durable materials will make a significant difference to the long-term success of the scheme. Poor quality materials may appear satisfactory when new, but soon wear and deteriorate. Good quality materials are usually longer lasting and easier to maintain. Where appropriate the use of sustainable materials (including recycled aggregate) and practices are encouraged, particularly in new development.

See Section 3 Sustainable Development & Design.

255. In addition to the choice of materials, careful detailing can make a huge difference to the success of the development. For example setting windows back within their openings and generous eaves will create shadows giving depth to a frontage that would otherwise appear flat and bland. This simple technique has been used effectively over the centuries and is evident in the Borough's older properties.

256. Careful detailing of materials, joints, fenestration, services connections and finishes play a key role in the successful delivery of a high quality development. In particular close attention should be paid to all elements of the building that have human contact. Quality detailing needs to work on two levels - both close up such as entrance detailing and fittings, and from a distance to give the elevation improved articulation through shadowing.

257. Large developments should create their own sense of place and enhance the richness of the experience for users. For example this can be done through the creation of public spaces and courtyards and the use of sculpture and art which can give identity and civic pride.

Material Choice and Historic Buildings

258. When altering and extending historic buildings the choice of materials should be carefully considered so that the special historic character of the building is not detrimentally affected. In the case of alterations and traditional extensions it may be necessary to use the same materials as were originally used and applied with the traditional construction techniques, particularly for listed buildings.

259. Where an extension to a historic building has successfully been designed to contrast with the original building a more flexible approach to materials may be possible.

(1)5.1.2 Openings

260. The placing of openings can make a significant positive or negative contribution to the design of a development. In more traditional buildings a strong uniform pattern of windows and doors, creating order and rhythm, is often an essential part of their character and the wider townscape. This is evident in the Victorian and Edwardian streets that are common throughout Southend Borough.

261. The positioning of the openings should provide order and structure to a fa�ade and bay windows, gables and setbacks can be incorporated to create variety and visual interest to the frontages. The use of pattern, texture and colour is another way of heightening the sensory experience of a building, however, these elements should be integral to the overall design of the building, not an afterthought. Large areas of unbroken masonry can be unattractive and monotonous and should be avoided.

262. In modern schemes the options are much greater. Fenestration can be used to create visual interest and add excitement. In all cases the proportions of windows, the solid to void ratio and the detailing need to be carefully considered.

263. Traditional windows and doors in existing buildings in the historic environment are integral to their special character and must normally be retained or reinstated.


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

264. The focus of any new building should be the pedestrian, not the car and it is essential that the pedestrian entrance is clearly defined and visible from the public highway. Primary entrances are to be located on the street elevation, not at the rear or in the car park. Design features such as signage, canopies or projections can be used to good effect to highlight entrances.

See also Section Access for All and Building Regulations Part M which can be viewed at

Openings in Extensions

265. The style and placement of windows and doors plays a significant role in helping to integrate new extensions with existing buildings. Where the extension is consistent with the style of the original building the windows and doors should match in style and be aligned with those in the main building. Where the extension is a deliberate contrast to the parent building, a more flexible approach to window design may be appropriate.

(3)5.1.3 Landscaping

Policy Link - Core Strategy Policy CP4: The Environment and Urban Renaissance - 4, 10
Saved BLP Policy C14 - Trees, Planted Areas and Landscaping

266. Landscaping is an integral part of any successful development and therefore must be considered at the outset not after planning permission has been granted. Such information is often now required at the time of submission, not determination. It can significantly enhance the setting and appearance of a building and help to soften new development into the existing fabric. Landscaping can also be used to provide an effective screen for privacy or to hide unsightly views.

267. The choice of landscaping will make a significant impact on the design and character of public and private spaces. Plants, trees and sculpture can be used to give structure, create enclosure, define and divide spaces, add texture and colour, or create a landmark feature.

Soft Landscaping

268. Plants and trees bring new buildings to life and are an essential part of any development. In general, preference should be given to native or established species and those that thrive in the coastal conditions found in Southend. Consideration should also be given to the effects of climate change and drought tolerant plants should be used where ever possible. Hotter weather also affects people and where the landscaping forms part of a public or private amenity space, trees and plants should be located where they can be used for shade. Other issues that should be considered when choosing tree species include nuisance caused by falling fruit or sap close to parking areas and the mature height and spread of trees close to buildings and roads.

269. All new soft landscaping is important for local biodiversity and wildlife. Where possible new development should seek to plug the gaps between the Borough's existing habitat links and greenways.

270. Existing trees should be retained, especially where they make a significant contribution to public amenity. The Council will consider safeguarding such trees with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Care should be taken to ensure the protection of existing trees during the development process. A full landscaping scheme and management plan will be required for all major developments.

271. Landscaping can also be beneficial in improving local microclimate. For example water can have a cooling effect and trees can be used as wind breaks and to provide shade. These techniques should be incorporated into the landscaping where they would provide a benefit to the users.

Hard Landscaping

272. Landscaping is much more than just plants, it is the whole treatment of spaces, furniture, use of water and public art and surfacing materials and should be specifically designed to complement the surrounding buildings. Usually a combination of hard and soft landscaping will be required.

273. When designing and detailing the landscaping it is important to be aware of the possible crime and anti-social behaviour implications. In particular the creation of dark corners or other hiding places should be avoided. Good lighting is important and can add an extra dimension to the landscape design. When landscaping public areas, robust street furniture is essential and the designs should include anti-skate measures where appropriate. If CCTV is proposed, it should be designed to accommodate proposed and existing trees.

274. Applicants for the development of larger sites should engage a qualified landscape architect and should put in place procedures and funding for the future maintenance of the landscaped areas. This will be secured through an appropriate legal agreement.

275. Where there is limited scope of landscaping on the site the applicant may be required to improve the landscaping of the public realm adjacent to the site. Where services and space allows this will often include the provision of new street trees and may also include new paving and street furniture.

See also Section 3.12 Biodiversity and Section 5.2.1 Amenity Space

5.1.4 Boundaries

276. Defining boundaries and boundary treatment is often a key element of local character and can become an important defining character of a new development. Any form of enclosure must be high quality and complementary to the overall scheme design or existing building. Boundary treatment should clearly distinguish between public and private space.

(9)5.1.5 Highways

277. It is imperative that all new highways cater for the needs of all users not just vehicle movement. The objective should be to construct highways that are safe, convenient, attractive, and support the needs of all including pedestrians, cyclists, emergency and service vehicles and utility companies.

278. Shared surfaces can represent an economical use of space and lead to attractive areas for driving, walking and play. These only work well if sufficient space is allocated. Developments that incorporate shared use surfaces as a means to solely increase density at the expense of practical amenity will not be approved. Where shared surfaces are considered appropriate providing play space and, where appropriate, structures, equipment or public art to enhance the play experience for children is essential.

(3) New Public Roads

Road Classification

279. Roads are classified as either 'distributors' or 'non distributors' in the Local Transport Plan. The principal function of a distributor is to distribute traffic. On these roads traffic obstructions should be kept to a minimum. The areas between distributors are called Environmental Improvement Areas and development in these areas should be focused on designing quality streetscapes and improving the quality of life for all users, not focusing on the movement of cars.

For further information see the Southend-on-Sea Local Transport Plan which is available on the Council's website and Manual for Streets which can be found at


280. The Council wishes to encourage imaginative design incorporating high quality materials in pursuit of the best possible highway designs. Usually these estate roads, home-zones and the like will not be suitable for adoption. Roads for adoption will need to be capable of being maintained economically and not represent a burden on public maintenance budgets. Roads for adoption therefore will be more conventional in design and construction.

281. The Council may be prepared to adopt new roads as public highway where there is a benefit to the public at large to allow for the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic. However, highways, which provide access to only a small number of dwellings, are unlikely to be adopted. Where it is intended that a new highway be adopted the Council should be consulted at the initial design stage. Commuted sums for maintenance may be secured through an appropriate legal agreement.

Road Layouts for Larger Sites

282. The layout of roads in larger developments will be key to their overall character. The aim of all new development is to ensure a positive integration into the wider context it is therefore important that this element of the design is informed by local character. Natural features, topography and the historic street pattern should also be used to shape the layout and give local distinctiveness to the scheme. Connectivity with neighbouring development, including matching in with the local grain and maintaining views and vistas, will be key to its success. The thinking behind the layout should be explained in the Design and Access Statement.

See also Section Pedestrian Permeability, Section 5.1.3 Landscaping and Section Public Open Space Cycle Tracks and Pedestrian Links

283. New development can often provide opportunities to extend the local cycle network and cycle facilities. A financial contribution to cycle tracks will be secured through an appropriate legal agreement.

284. The creation of new pedestrian links to and through development encourages walking and will be welcomed wherever possible. New routes should be well designed, overlooked, well lit and where appropriate should also include access and opportunity where possible for cycling.

See also Section Secured by Design, the Southend Cycling Strategy and the Southend-on-Sea Local Transport Plan which is available on the Council's website For further information on developer contributions for cycling see Planning Obligations DPD. Detailed Highway Design

For detailed technical guidance on specific highway requirements and specifications see Appendix.16 Private Access Ways

Private Access Ways to Multiple Dwellings and Parking Areas

285. The required width of the access to parking areas will depend on the number of spaces, the size and use of the development and the class of road it links onto. Access ways for large numbers of properties or parking spaces, or which lead onto a distributor road must be two-way. Single width accesses may be acceptable for short driveways accessing small numbers of parking spaces from low category roads. Between these two extremes it may be appropriate in some instances for single track access ways to include a passing place at the back of path. (See Appendix 16.)

Bridging over Private Vehicular Access Ways

286. Bridging over vehicular access ways creates a negative space in the streetscene (a dark void) and will be discouraged, especially for smaller developments where the opening forms a significant part of the frontage. Bridging over single track accesses has less of an impact on the street and may be more acceptable. Where there is no alternative (i.e. to basement parking) the impact of the opening should designed and located so that it is subservient to the main pedestrian entrance and has minimal impact on the streetscene.

See also 'Private Access Ways to Multiple Dwellings and Parking Areas' above and Appendix 16

Detailed Private Access Way Design

For detailed technical guidance on specific private access requirements and specifications see Appendix 16

(3) Parking

'[New Development should] take a design-led approach to the provision of car-parking space, that is well-integrated with a high quality public realm and streets that are pedestrian, cycle and vehicle friendly.' (PPS3: Housing)

Parking Standards

287. The Council's parking standards are set out in the current Interim Supplementary Planning Guidance Vehicle Parking Standards (EPOA, 2001) which will be replaced by the .......Document in due course Developers should demonstrate that the level of parking provision will be adequate and not result in overspill onto adjacent roads. In certain circumstances - e.g. in highly accessible locations, schemes with little or no off-street parking provision may be considered acceptable. The amount of parking required will depend on the size of development, the use, the location and access to public transport.

288. Reduced levels of off-street parking provision can lead to parking transferring onto adjacent streets where there are no parking controls. This is not in accordance with the government's sustainable travel objectives. Therefore, it will generally not be acceptable for developers to provide low levels of on site parking in areas of the town where it is possible for parking to take place on street (particularly in areas of parking stress) unless some form of restraint is provided.

For further information on parking requirements see EPOA Vehicle Parking Standards which can be found on the Council's website Note. The replacement standards document will also be available on the website in due course.

Analysis of Parking Options

289. When designing a new development, the type and location of the parking provision can make a significant impact on the final design and it is essential that it is considered at an early stage and as part of the overall design. Different forms of parking have advantages and disadvantages. The development type and use will determine the most appropriate design. In all cases the parking areas should be attractive, safe, secure, well lit and convenient. The needs of pedestrians must be taken into account when designing parking areas. Safe, convenient and attractive footpaths should be provided to give access from the parking spaces to the street frontage and entrances.

290. Whatever option is chosen it is important to ensure that the outlook from the development is not dominated by car parking. This is particularly in residential schemes where it will not be considered acceptable for residential units to look out directly onto large parking areas. Some form of landscaping or amenity buffer must be used to improve the outlook and provide a separation from the fumes and noise. All surface car parking should include substantial soft landscaping.

291. The choice of surface materials are key to the overall look of the parking area and should be carefully considered and chosen to complement the development. All surfacing materials must be permeable to improve drainage and to prevent excess run off and flooding. Suitable interception may be required in some locations and for certain sizes of car park. This can be clarified with the Environment Agency during pre-application discussions.

See also Section 5.1.3 Landscaping and Section 3.6 Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

292. The issues surrounding each type of parking option are outlined below:

Parking Courts

  • Benefits from high natural surveillance from surrounding properties.
  • Can become a feature of the development with landscaping and high quality finish (and even become a shared surface and playspace) but should not be at the expense of private amenity space.
  • Low public impact and not dominant in the streetscene.
  • Most suitable for larger backland sites and low rise housing schemes.
  • Noise implications for neighbours - a landscaped buffer may be required.
  • All surfacing materials must be porous to allow free draining and minimise runoff.

Unallocated / on Street Parking

293. Unallocated on street parking may be appropriate for larger developments where new streets are created. Where this is proposed the streetscene should be designed in such a way so that the parking does not dominate the development. Particular consideration should be given to the use of street trees so soften the impact and assist traffic calming.

Home Zones

294. Home Zones are residential streets in which the road space is shared between drivers and other road users with the wider needs of residents (including people who walk and cycle, and children) in mind. The aim is to change the way that streets are used and to improve the quality of life in residential streets by making them places for people, not just for traffic. Home Zones are very different from conventional streets as they use physical structures such as benches, flower beds, trees, play areas, lamppost and gateway features to force motorists to drive with greater care and at lower speeds.

295. There may be areas of the Borough that could be adapted as Home Zones but the success of this type of scheme is not just dependant on effective and well thought out plans, it also requires the community backing and involvement. Where Home Zones are proposed as part of a new development they should be integral to the design of the whole development.

Further guidance on Homezones can be found at the Department for Transport Website and at

Basement or Layered Parking

  • Most suitable for larger flatted blocks and commercial schemes.
  • Preserves the street frontage and leaves the ground floor free for more active uses. The entrance should be carefully designed to minimise its impact on the streetscene.
  • Parking areas must be ventilated and any ducts, grills etc. should be part of the overall design.
  • In commercial schemes basement parking can provide the opportunity for underground servicing.
  • May not be suitable in flood risk areas unless appropriate flood mitigation measures are incorporated into the design. These should not be to the detriment of the overall building design.
  • Any form of security gates should be high quality and attractive (roller shutters will not normally be considered appropriate) and should be set back from the highway to a distance commensurate with the length of vehicle likely to use the access (i.e. 6 metres for a car).
  • Basement parking may not be appropriate in areas where there may be land stability issues.
  • Basement parking is not considered appropriate for single dwellings as it would dominate the frontage detrimentally affecting the design of the building and is normally out of character with the streetscene.
  • Basement parking is not usually considered appropriate for narrow frontages as it would require an unreasonably large proportion of the front elevation to be used as the vehicular entrance.


296. In designing a proposal that includes a vehicular ramp the following points need to be considered:

  • Access ramps should be heated or protected from frost and snow and have clear visibility for users at street level.
  • The possible loss of some visibility when approaching the highway access on an up grade;
  • The possible increase in stopping distance required on a down grade;
  • The possible need for additional drainage to prevent an excess amount of surface water entering the highway from a down grade, or the site on an up grade;
  • Must be DDA compliant if incorporating pedestrian route.

For the technical specifications of ramps see Appendix 16 Highways Technical Guidance.

Undercroft Parking

  • The design of frontages is key - the parking area should not dominate or determine principal entrance to the building. On the public frontages the parking area should be wrapped by active uses.
  • The entrance must not appear over dominant in the elevation and include sufficient visibility for users.
  • Gates can be used to increase security and maintain enclosure but they should be automated and integral to the overall design.
  • More suitable for flatted blocks and commercial schemes.

Off Street Surface Parking (except forecourt parking)

  • Surface car parking should be part of the overall design and not dominate the street frontage or main entrance.
  • Generous landscaping, including tree planting, should be used to soften and break up the paved area
  • High quality permeable surfacing and detailing is essential.
  • Suitable for all types of development.

Forecourt Parking

In New Development

297. Parking on the frontage will normally be discouraged unless there are no viable alternatives. In these cases it is important to ensure that the character of the area is not harmed.. Parallel parking on the frontage can have a significant detrimental impact on the streetscene and is generally considered an unacceptable solution. Applications for forecourt parking will be considered on a site by site basis.

298. For new developments parking located away from the street frontage at the rear or in separately designed garage blocks is generally preferred, although these areas still require quality surface materials and landscaping to provide an attractive environment and outlook for users.

299. Where it is considered appropriate, proposals for forecourt parking should meet the following criteria:

  • Open frontages and total loss of front gardens or forecourts to parking will be considered unacceptable; at least part of the boundary should be enclosed. Forecourt parking areas should maintain clear access to the main residential entrance. Parking at the side of the property has less of an impact and does not obstruct the entrance and should be considered where space and character allows.
  • Good quality and appropriate surfacing materials should be used rather than concrete, tarmac or loose material such as shingle.
  • All surfacing materials and construction of parking areas must be porous to allow free draining and minimise run off.
  • All proposals should include provision for soft landscaping to screen and soften the vehicle(s) and to protect the visual amenity.

300. Where considered acceptable in principle, whatever the size of scheme, only a small proportion of the frontage should be given over to parking.

For Existing Residences

301. In many parts of the Borough front gardens and landscaping are an important feature and make a significant contribution to the character of the streetscene. With increased car ownership the Borough's older properties built without a designated car parking space are under increasing pressure to convert traditional front gardens to forecourt parking. Unfortunately, unless done sympathetically, this can harm the character of a residential area. In some cases the space available may not be large enough for a medium sized car or forecourt parking may not be considered acceptable in principle because it would be detrimental to local character.

302. New applications for parallel forecourt parking will not be approved in situations where it will be impossible to gain access or egress with a car parked on the carriageway within one metre of the vehicle cross-over.

303. Forecourt parking on classified roads will be required to include turning facilities or an 'in and out' drive for safety reasons.

See also Planning Advice Note 1 Forecourt Parking for further details on forecourt parking which is available on the Council's website and Appendix 16 Highways Technical Guidance.


304. The construction of new crossovers on the highway is only undertaken by the Council's competent contractor. Some crossovers will require planning permission. It is always advisable to check with the Council at the design stage. New crossings and hardstandings should not result in the loss of street trees or planted verges unless they can be replanted within the vicinity.

305. Long crossovers that allow for several cars to be parked perpendicular to the road are unattractive and will be considered unacceptable. Shared drives reduce the need for crossovers and should be utilised where possible.

For further information see Department of Enterprise, Tourism and the Environment Crossover Application Form Guidance Notes and Planning Advice Note 1 Forecourt Parking which is available on the Council's website

Disabled Parking- Lifetime Homes

306. The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 required that adequate parking provision is made on site for the needs of disabled users. Larger schemes will therefore be required to provide adequate provision for disabled parking spaces. Higher numbers of disabled spaces may be required for some uses where a higher proportion of disabled users are expected - e.g. medical and elderly care facilities.

307. All new houses and bungalows should aim to meet Lifetime Home Standards with regard to parking space size. This requires that sufficient space is allowed to extend the space to a disabled space if the need arises.

For further information on Lifetime Home Standards see Appendix 4 Cycle Parking

308. All types and sizes of development should provide safe, secure, weatherproof and convenient cycle parking as part of the overall development. The most convenient location for users is within the building but where this is not possible and the cycle parking is detached from the development it's design should complement the character of the main building.

309. The cycle parking requirement for each type of scheme is set out in the Council's current Interim Supplementary Planning Guidance Vehicle Parking Standards (2001). Developers of larger commercial schemes may also be required to demonstrate that they have considered the additional needs of cyclists, such as shower, changing and locker facilities in their Travel Plan.

See Also Section 6 Making an Application

5.1.6 Services and Utilities

(1) Waste Storage and Recycling

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


310. Refuse storage and recycling should be integral to the development, not an after thought. Designers must consider and demonstrate the type and quantity of waste and recycling which is likely to be produced by the building and how it will be stored and collected. Storage should be accessible within reasonable carrying distance from the highway but should not appear to dominate the frontage. Where possible arrangements for refuse and recycling facilities storage should be made within the building where they can be integral to the design and hidden from public view. Where this is not achievable external storage facilities must be well designed, conveniently located, screened and ventilated. If new streets are formed there must be adequate access for waste collection vehicles.

311. Recycling requirements are constantly evolving. Developers will need to demonstrate that their development will meet the current requirements and be flexible so that they can be adapted for the future. A recycling / waste management strategy will be required for large developments.


312. Adequate storage should be provided for waste and recyclables, where possible, within the envelope of the building. Where not possible commercial waste should be screened from public view in specifically designed housing within the site perimeter.

Consideration must be given to the type of waste container to ensure that it is adequate in size, and that it can be easily accessed and manoeuvred by the Council's waste contractors. For further guidance see Appendix Waste and Recycling Guidelines and the Council's Municipal Waste Management Strategy for Southend-on-Sea 2004-2020 and Southend Borough Council Waste Management Guide which is available on the Council's website

(1) Ventilation, Air Handling Equipment and Other Plant

313. All services and plant must be an integral element of the building design. This will usually mean it will be hidden within the envelope of the building but in certain circumstances it could become a design feature on the roof. The design should reflect the need for housing, ducting, extracts, condensers, lift overruns etc.

314. Flue extraction and ventilation equipment must be designed to minimise its visual impact and to ensure that no nuisance or detriment to amenity is caused by odour, fumes, food droplets vibration or noise to nearby properties.

See Environmental Health Guidance - New Food Premises which is available on the Council's website Utility Boxes

315. Utility boxes are unsightly and should not be positioned where they can be seen from the public realm. Wherever practical they should be sited inconspicuously at the side of a property, positioned internally in a porch or common hallway, or located in a box underground. Pest Nuisances

316. In some areas of the Borough, especially on the High Street and Seafront, nuisance is caused to buildings by seagulls and pigeons. Where this is the case mitigation measures should be integrated into the design of the building and not an afterthought.

5.2 Residential Schemes

'Good design is fundamental to the development of high quality new housing, which contributes to the creation of sustainable, mixed communities.' (PPS3: Housing)

'Good quality housing design can improve social wellbeing and quality of life by reducing crime, improving public health, easing transport problems and increasing property values.' Building for life website

This section outlines what is required in terms of amenity space for new residential schemes and guidance for the extension of existing dwellings.

All new residential schemes will be assessed against the CABE Building for Life Criteria which can be found in Appendix 3 or at

(4)5.2.1 Amenity Space

'Particularly where family housing is proposed, it will be important to ensure that the needs of children are taken into account and that there is good provision of recreational areas, including private gardens, play areas and informal play space. These should be well designed, safe, secure and stimulating areas with safe pedestrian access.' (PPS3: Housing)

317. Outdoor space significantly enhances the quality of life for residents and an attractive and useable garden area is an essential element of any new residential development. The required amount of amenity space will be determined on a site by site basis taking into account local parks and the constraints of the site. Developments that provide little or no private amenity space will only be acceptable in exceptional circumstances and will be required to justify their reasons. Usable balconies and terraces can provide valuable additional private amenity areas particularly on flatted schemes but should normally be provided in addition to a larger area of amenity space usually provided at ground level. These principles apply equally to any proposals for subdivision.

318. Private amenity space should be seen as an extension to the living space and be practical in shape and accessible in location. Positioning should be optimised to allow for maximum use whilst also having the ability to be policed from within the development. Shared amenity space should be well managed to ensure that the quality and usability does not deteriorate.

319. Where flatted proposals include units of two or more bedrooms some form of provision should be made for children's play areas within the design of amenity space. This could include an item of play equipment or landscaping or sculpture that has specifically been designed to promote play. Children of all ages should be catered for.

Amenity Decks and Roof Terraces

320. Schemes for flatted development sometimes design the private amenity space as a roof terraces or on decks above basement parking areas. Where this is proposed the Council will need to be convinced that the amenity space will be usable and is integral to the design of the development. This type of scheme does present greater constraints for planting and full details of how soft landscaping will be integrated into the design (including irrigation and drainage details and the design of any planters) should be submitted with the application. Proposals for hard landscaping only will not be considered acceptable. The success of this type of space will depend on quality planting and materials.

321. Roof terraces may offer views of the surrounding townscape and these should be exploited, however, the terrace should be designed so that the private amenity of the adjoining neighbours is protected. Where amenity decks are raised above ground level the privacy of neighbours is likely to be affected and mitigation measures to prevent overlooking should be included in the design. Proposals which cause unreasonable overlooking or are overbearing will not be acceptable.

Criteria for Amenity Space

322. There is no fixed quantitative requirement for the amount of amenity space as each site is assessed on a site by site basis according to local character and constraints. However, all residential schemes will normally be required to provide usable amenity space for the enjoyment of occupiers in some form. The amount, quality and usability of the amenity provision will be assessed against the following criteria.

Criteria for Amenity Space

Private Gardens

  • Be of a usable size and shape and large enough for outdoor eating and children's play.
  • Be overlooked by habitable rooms and provide a sitting out area close to the main living area.
  • Be private and incorporate a means of enclosure that complements the development and the wider townscape.
  • Make a positive contribution to local biodiversity.

Communal Amenity Space

  • Be of a usable size and shape.
  • Receive sunlight, even in winter and provide shade in summer.
  • Be well landscaped and include significant amounts of planting. For larger developments with shared amenity space the landscaping should be designed in such a way as to provide semi private outdoor rooms, to enable users to have some privacy from each other.
  • Include spaces for sitting and socialising e.g. bbq area.
  • Developments that include flats of 2 or more bedrooms should include a dedicated play space. This could include a piece(s) of play equipment or be landscaped in such a way as to promote imaginative play. Children of all ages should be catered for where possible. This should be explained in the Design and Access Statement.
  • Include a clothes drying area.
  • Be screened from parking areas.
  • Be easily accessible for all occupants, not bisected by vehicular accesses or parking areas.
  • Be overlooked by habitable rooms to ensure safety and natural surveillance.
  • Have a Landscape Management Plan.
  • Be private and incorporate a means of enclosure that complements the development and the wider townscape.
  • Make a positive contribution to local biodiversity.


  • In exceptional circumstances it may be acceptable for residential schemes to provide balconies as the only amenity provision. This will need to be justified on a site by site basis in the Design and access statement. Where this is considered acceptable in principle they should:

  • Benefit from sunshine and good microclimate including good air quality.
  • Have a pleasant outlook.
  • Be large enough to allow outdoor sitting, dining and clothes drying.
  • Be an integral and considered part of the overall architecture.
  • Be secure and relatively private.
  • Be well related to the internal living accommodation.

Where additional ground level or other amenity space is provided, the size of balconies is not so crucial but these criteria should still be used to inform their design.

The applicant will be required to justify how the proposed amenity space meets the above criteria in the Design and Access Statement. For larger schemes this will normally require the submission of detailed landscaping plan at application stage.

See also Section 3.12 Biodiversity and Section 5.1.3 Landscaping

5.2.2 Alterations and Additions to Existing Buildings

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

323. Alterations to existing buildings should be done so as not to destroy existing character. Even minor changes such as changing the window design can be detrimental. Key features and proportions should be retained where they are an integral part of the character.

324. Building an extension is one way of adapting to the changing needs of a household or business and most properties have the capacity to be extended in some form. A well designed and integrated extension can complement and even enhance an existing property, whereas a poorly designed addition can easily destroy the original character and have a detrimental effect on the streetscene.

325. Whether the proposed extension is modern or traditional, the simplest way to ensure that its does not conflict with the existing character of the property is to draw references from the parent building. For example:

  • All extensions should be well designed, well detailed and respond to the unique constraints and opportunities of the site.
  • The scale of the extension should be respectful of the scale of the present building - additions that are too large will be over dominant.
  • Extensions that appear subservient to the parent building tend to fit more comfortably and integrate better with the existing building. Matching roof styles and pitches can help integrate old and new.
  • Extensions should respect the amenity of neighbouring buildings and ensure not to adversely affect light, outlook or privacy of the habitable rooms in adjacent properties.

326. Where single storeys join to double storeys there should be a step in the plan form to give articulation and differentiation to the elevation.

Permitted Development

327. If you live in a house, you can make certain types of minor changes to your home without needing to apply for planning permission. These rights are called 'permitted development'. They derive from a general planning permission granted not by the Local Authority but by Parliament (the General Permitted Development - Town and Country Planning Order, 1997 and amendment 2 2008 (the GPDO)). Flats, maisonettes and commercial properties have no permitted development rights.

328. However, in some areas of the Borough and individual properties, permitted development rights are more restricted. If you live in a Conservation Area, or an area covered by an Article 4 Direction, you will need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work which do not need permission in other areas. If you live in a listed building all works that affect the character of the building will require listed building consent.

329. It is always advisable to check with Southend Borough Council Planning Department whether planning permission is needed before commencing any development.

Also see Section 4.8 Article 4 Directions and Section 2.3.2 Relationship with Neighbours. Further details about the General Permitted Development Order can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government Website the Planning Portal Website and the Council's Website

(3) Types of Extensions

Rear Extensions

330. The easiest and most popular way to extend your home is to build a rear extension. These additions are generally preferred to other types of extension because they usually have little or no impact on the public realm and therefore preserve the character of the streetscene. Whether or not there are any public views, the design of rear extensions is still important and every effort should be made to integrate them with the character of the parent building, particularly in terms of scale, materials and the relationship with existing fenestration and roof form.

331. Rear extensions can sometimes adversely affect neighbouring properties through overlooking, and blocking of light. The design should therefore ensure that these are kept within reasonable limits. Each application will be assessed on a site by site basis. Extensions on the boundary can have a significant affect on the neighbouring property and may not be considered appropriate.

332. Proposals which would result in a neighbouring window, as the sole source of light to a habitable room, being contained between two projections will require careful consideration to ensure that light, outlook and spaciousness to the adjoining property is retained. In some cases this type of extension may be unacceptable in principle.

Side Extensions

333. Many properties in the Borough have the capacity to extend to the side. However, side extensions can easily become overbearing and dominate the original property. In order to avoid this, side extensions should be designed to appear subservient to the parent building. This can generally be achieved by ensuring the extension is set back behind the existing building frontage line and that its design, in particular the roof, is fully integrated with the existing property. Poorly designed side extensions will detrimentally affect the proportions and character of the existing property and so extreme care should be taken to ensure the original design qualities are preserved. Set backs can also alleviate the difficulty of keying new materials (particularly brickwork) into old and disguises slight variations.

334. Where a terracing effect would be out of character, it is important to maintain a degree of separation between two neighbouring properties. This separation should be maintained at all levels - narrowing an extension at first floor level creates an unacceptable design and must be avoided. Extensions over one storey should be set off the boundary to provide an equivalent amount of contextual separation that reflects the prevailing local character and should always be continuous in their form.

335. Side extensions will undoubtedly impact on neighbouring properties and care should be taken to ensure that they do not cause an unreasonable loss of light. This is particularly important when the adjacent property has side windows, to habitable rooms, which are the sole source of light. Each application will be assessed on a site by site basis.

Extensions incorporating Garages

336. Garages should be designed so that they do not dominate the parent building or the streetscene and in most cases they should be set back from the front building line. New garages should be large enough to accommodate a medium sized car and bicycles but not so large that they appear out of proportion with the main building.

337. The roof design and materials of a garage extension is the key to its successful integration with the parent building. It is usually a good idea to draw reference from the roof of the parent building. Where this is not possible a parapet is preferred over a flat roof as it provides a neater solution. Small pitched roofs that lead into flat roofs behind are not considered an acceptable design solution.

338. Garages should normally be set back at least one car's length from the footway to prevent cars parked in the driveway from overhanging the pavement. Integral garages that are set back behind the first floor building line can create a dark void below which may be detrimental to both the main property and the streetscene. This will not be considered acceptable. Where there is not enough space to achieve this alternative off street parking arrangements, such as parking to the rear, should be considered.

339. In exceptional circumstances, buildings that have their frontages on the highway may be able to incorporate a garage, however it should form an integral part of the design of the development and include an automated entry system.

Detached Garages and Other Detached Buildings

340. Detached garages and other ancillary buildings within the grounds of an existing building should be designed to complement the character of the associated building. As with all new buildings they should embrace the design principles set out in this document. Garages in particular should be set back from the pavement to allow room to pull up without causing obstruction.

Conversion of Garages to Habitable Rooms

341. Converting an existing garage to a habitable room may be one relatively easy option for extending a property but will not always be considered acceptable in principle. The viability of this option will depend on whether the parking space in the garage is required to meet the demand of the enlarged property and whether an acceptable design solution that successfully blends the converted garage with the rest of the dwelling can be found. Provided the loss of parking can be justified, a design that achieves a seamless integration with the existing house is normally the best option. This should include matching the materials and fenestration with the main building. However, where the garage is a particular feature that is replicated in a row of properties or where it projects significantly forward of the main front building line this type of proposal may be considered out of character with the existing building and the wider streetscene.

Front Extensions

342. Extensions to the front of existing properties are generally discouraged as they alter the relationship of property within the street and may be detrimental to the wider townscape. Where front extensions are considered not to harm the local townscape care must be taken to ensure that they are of an appropriate size and scale, that they show consideration for the established street frontage and do not unreasonably obstruct light to habitable rooms within the existing property or on the flank or front walls of adjoining properties.


343. Porches are a common addition to residential properties. Most property entrances are located on the front elevation and therefore it is particularly important that the design of the porch is of an appropriate scale, well integrated with the parent building and does not obscure or conflict with existing features such as bay windows.

344. Projecting porches are not normally appropriate in the historic environment. In these areas many of the properties have recessed open porches which contribute to the special character and the wider streetscene and these should be retained.


345. Conservatories are a common type of rear extension. Many new conservatories are not site specific designs so it is important that the size and style chosen is appropriate for the existing building. Generally the style of the conservatory should respect the period of the original property. This can be in either a traditional way that blends in with the period of the building or a contrasting simple modern design that does not try and compete with the original building. Choosing the appropriate design and materials is especially important in conservation areas. In all cases the placement of any conservatory should normally be at ground level and preferably located away from the boundary to avoid overlooking.


346. Balconies, particularly on front elevations are a traditional feature of seaside towns such as Southend. As an integral element of local character existing balconies should not be infilled. Where new balconies are proposed on existing buildings, care needs to be taken to ensure that the design is of a high quality, of an appropriate style for the period of property and that the privacy of neighbours is not compromised. Obscure screens may be used to prevent overlooking but these should not be at the expense of good design. Balconies created by cutting into the roofslope are a low impact alternative to the traditional projecting balcony and are more appropriate in some areas. All new balconies will need to meet building regulations and should be designed to minimise the risk of crime.

347. For new developments balconies and roof terraces can be a good way of adding visual interest and layering to a building whilst also providing additional private outdoor space. In flatted developments a usable private balcony or terrace can be a valuable asset to the future resident.

See also Section 5.2.1 Amenity Space

Roof Extensions and Dormer Windows

348. Proposals for additional roof accommodation within existing properties must respect the style, scale and form of the existing roof design and the character of the wider townscape. Dormer windows, where appropriate, should appear incidental in the roof slope (i.e. set in from both side walls, set well below the ridgeline and well above the eaves). The position of the new opening should correspond with the rhythm and align with existing fenestration on lower floors. (Note: one central dormer may also be an appropriate alternative.) The size of any new dormer windows, particularly on the front and side elevations, should be smaller to those on lower floors and the materials should be sympathetic to the existing property. The space around the window must be kept to a minimum. Large box style dormers should be avoided, especially where they have public impact, as they appear bulky and unsightly. Smaller individual dormers are preferred.

349. There are many types of dormers and it is important to choose the most appropriate one for the style of property. For example small dormers with a vertical emphasis tend to suit the Borough's older properties, whereas thin dormers with a horizontal emphasis (flat roofed or catslide) are better suited to the chalet style post war properties.

350. Some contexts, for example where there are unbroken roofslopes in a terrace or street, where the existing pitch is too shallow or where it would over dominate neighbouring properties, dormers and roof extensions will mainly be inappropriate. Where dormers to the front would disrupt the overall balance of the property or the wider streetscene they also will be considered unacceptable.

351. Side dormers often dominate the front elevation and, where appropriate, will only be acceptable where they are small scale, set back from the front building line and have limited visual impact.

352. In some cases it may be possible to increase the roofspace and remove the need for a side dormer by changing a hipped roof to a gable end. This type of development can be more acceptable than a side dormer provided it is not out of character with the streetscene or leads to an unbalanced street block or pair of semis i.e. It is more appropriate for a detached or end of terrace property than only one of a matching pair of semi's.

353. Rooflights are a less obtrusive, cheaper alternative to dormer windows and may be more appropriate in certain circumstances. Flush fitted 'conservation style' rooflights are less conspicuous and are therefore preferred, especially in conservation areas. In the historic environment, rooflights may only be acceptable if they are not visible from the street.

354. All dormers and rooflights should be kept away from other forms within the roof including chimneys, dormers and gable features, etc.

355. 'Mansard roof' style extensions are inappropriate for the style of buildings within the Borough. They are unsightly and often significantly increase the scale of the property to the detriment of the wider streetscene.

356. Extensions that raise the ridge height of an existing building are only considered acceptable in principle where they complement the design of the original building and where they do not break the continuity of the streetscene or appear overbearing.

Additional Storeys

357. In a few cases it may be possible to extend a property upward by adding an additional storey however this will only be appropriate where it does not conflict with the character of the street. For example adding another storey to a bungalow will not be considered appropriate where the street comprises predominately of single storey dwellings or where there is a regular pattern of bungalows and other style of properties which is part of the local character.

358. Where it is considered acceptable in principle, in order to achieve a cohesive development it is essential that the additional storey draws strong references from the lower floors and adjacent properties, or an overall integrated design is developed. It is also important to ensure that proposed new windows, particularly on the side and rear elevations, do not give rise to any overlooking (or perceived overlooking) of habitable rooms in neighbouring properties or unreasonably overlook into private gardens.

See also Section Scale, Height and Massing and Section Overlooking and Privacy

359. Additional storeys to flatted and commercial buildings will in the main be unacceptable. In the few instances where such additions will have an acceptable and limited visual impact, the design should have maximum transparency and a lightweight structure. Where this type of development is proposed it is recommended that the principle is agreed with the Council at an early stage.

See also Section 5.3.5 Extensions to Commercial Development

5.3 Non-Residential Schemes

360. The Borough has a number of industrial estates and commercial areas. Some of these areas are becoming outdated and are under pressure to redevelop to meet the needs of modern businesses and embrace new technology. All new development, including industrial buildings, should seek to create pleasant and sustainable places for their users and the wider community. Attractive places attract people, new businesses and wider investment.

Applications for new commercial developments will normally be required to submit a Transport Assessment outlining the impact of new workers and visitors on local infrastructure and a Green Travel Plan outlining the measures that will be introduced to encourage more sustainable forms of transport for their workforce and visitors. For further information see Section 6 - Making an Application.

(2)5.3.1 Site Layout

361. From a design and operational perspective it is more desirable for commercial buildings to take the form of perimeter blocks round the edge of a site, rather than a single unit in the centre of the site. This type of development has a number of benefits:

  • A perimeter building can present a more active public frontage than a fence.
  • A perimeter building provides the business with more presence in the streetscene and the opportunity for an easily identifiable public entrance.
  • A perimeter building provides a more appropriate location for signage rather than using free standing signage that adds clutter.
  • A perimeter building does not require as much soft landscaping to provide an attractive setting for the building.
  • A perimeter building increases security by enclosing and protecting storage and parking.
  • A perimeter building can be used to screen unsightly open storage, servicing and car parking.
  • A perimeter block can screen nuisance and noise from neighbours.

(1)5.3.2 Signage and Advertising

Policy Link - Saved BLP Policy C8 - Advertisements

362. Advertisements, including illuminated signage are an essential part of commercial development, they can add vitality to an area but because they are intended to have significant public impact, care needs to be taken to ensure that they do not have a detrimental affect on townscape. Low quality, poorly sited or excessive signage can have an adverse affect on both the image of the business and the wider area. Over illuminated or poorly located signage could also have a detrimental affect on highway safety. Adverts should be well designed in themselves and have adequate regard for their setting. A well made attractive sign can be just as effective and project an image of quality to the customer. All signage must be integral to and compliment the design of the building / shopfront.

363. Where located on a building, signage should be related to the buildings proportions and not appear over dominant. They should not obstruct architectural features such as shopfronts, windows and cornices and they should be located below the cill level of first floor windows. The principle of signs above first floor level will be decided on a case by case basis.

364. The appropriate number and size of signs will depend on the scale of the building and its location. The size and amount of lettering should relate to the proportion and area of the fascia. Large numbers of adverts add clutter to the streetscene and will not be considered appropriate. Where upper floors of a building are utilised for separate businesses, simple lettering on the windows is to be used instead of a box or projecting sign. All signage should be appropriate to the context and not result in a proliferation of clutter in the streetscene. A proliferation of free standing totems and flag advertisements will be unacceptable. Particular care should be given to the impact of signage in Conservation Areas.

365. Applications for new advertisement will therefore be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Prominence in the streetscene.
  • Effect on the building and the wider townscape.
  • Impact and relationship to existing architectural features.
  • Cumulative affect in conjunction with other advertisements in the vicinity.
  • The impact on any historic building designations in the area.
  • Effect on residential amenity.

366. Box and hanging signs can add articulation to the frontage although such signage will be restricted to one per property unless it has a double frontage. They should not be over-scaled and should not obscure architectural detailing. Imaginative hanging signs add character and will be welcomed.

For further guidance on fascias and box sign for shopfronts see Section 5.3.6 Shopfronts.

Illuminated Signs

367. Illuminated fascia signs can have an impact on the character of an area and traffic safety. The acceptability of an illuminated fascia sign will depend on location and its appropriateness to the character of the existing building and wider streetscape. Other types of illuminated signage such as cut out illuminated letters or externally illuminated fascia signs are generally more appropriate and can be just as, if not more, effective.

See also Section 5.3.6 Shopfronts


368. Advertisement hoardings are unacceptable except on a temporary basis to screen development sites in predominately commercial areas.

Corporate Image

369. Corporate image should not be at the expense of design or imposed where is would be inappropriate for the context. Businesses should be prepared to adapt their regular signage and materials. It should be noted that breach of Advertisement Consent is a criminal offence. Advice should be sought from The Council as to whether deemed or express consent is required.

5.3.3 Open Storage

Policy Link - Saved BLP Policy C18 - Open Sites Used for Commercial Purposes

370. Open storage should be shielded by perimeter blocks where possible. However, for large areas of open storage where is it difficult to enclose by the building, extensive soft landscaping should be employed to screen fencing which, on its own, can result in a dead frontage.

(1)5.3.4 Servicing

371. Servicing arrangements for commercial development should be considered at an early stage to ensure that they become an integral part of the overall design. Where possible, servicing arrangements should be hidden from public view at the rear of the building or in the centre of perimeter blocks. Shared serving access arrangements should be considered for smaller plots. If there is no alternative to servicing from the public highway, deliveries should be timed to cause the minimum of inconvenience to other highway users. This may not be appropriate for some uses or larger developments.

372. Applicants for larger schemes will be required to demonstrate that the proposed service provision is sufficient for the development in their Transport Assessment.

5.3.5 Extensions to Commercial Developments

373. The feasibility of extending commercial premises will be assessed on a site by site basis. Where space and character allows for an extension the following issues should be considered:

  • Extensions will only be acceptable where they would not be detrimental to local townscape. Additional floors, for example, may not be considered appropriate for certain types of building or in areas where increased height would be out of character.
  • Extensions that involve the loss of existing parking will only be considered acceptable in principle where sufficient parking spaces are left to serve the extended building.
  • Extensions that involve the loss of landscaped areas will only be considered acceptable in principle where enough landscaping remains to soften the extended building.
  • The design of the extension should complement the existing building

374. Where extensions to commercial buildings are required the applicant should consider trying to acquire the adjacent site or incorporate adjacent buildings so that a more flexible design approach can be taken. In some cases it may not be possible to extend and alternative premises should be sought.

(6)5.3.6 Shopfronts and Shutters

Policy Link - Saved BLP Policy C7 - Shop and Commercial Frontages And Fascias

375. Shopfronts contribute significantly to the quality of shopping centres. Attractive shopfronts can create a pleasant shopping environment positively enhancing the shopping experience and boosting local businesses. Just one unsympathetic shopfront can destroy the character of the whole street, therefore to build high quality retail environments it is important that basic design principles and high quality detailing is applied to each and every shopfront alteration. Inappropriate shuttering can also give rise to the perception of higher crime.

376. Many of the Borough's original shopfronts have been replaced by unsympathetic facades, which can be detrimental to the character of the building and the streetscene. Shopfronts must always be designed to complement and enhance the rest of the building and the local environment.

377. Every building, old or new, will provide a framework into which a new shopfront can be inserted. This could mean either a traditional design or a contemporary solution which relates well to the surrounding townscape. Planning permission will be required for new or replacement shopfronts materially affecting the external appearance of the building.

378. In conservation areas development proposals for shopfronts will be carefully controlled in order to preserve and enhance the traditional character and appearance of these areas. The design should be compatible with the individual style of the building and with the local vernacular. It must seek to sympathetically incorporate or reinstate any original features such as fascia scrolls, and use traditional colours and materials.

379. Any alteration to a shopfront which forms part of a listed building will require listed building consent if it affects the special character of the building. Even minor changes such as repainting the facade or alterations to the interior may require consent. The Council will normally expect original and existing shopfronts in listed buildings to be retained especially where they are part of the special character of the building or within a Conservation Area, Locally Listed Building or Frontage of Townscape Merit. However, proposals to upgrade unsympathetic shopfronts in historic buildings will be encouraged. In most cases an accurate replica of the original shopfront will be most appropriate.

For further information on shopfronts in historic buildings and areas see Section 4.5

380. Shopfronts should reflect the scale and character of the whole building and generally aim to enhance the streetscene. Whilst large garish signs and over proportioned shopfronts may initially draw attention to a particular shop, they impinge on and dilute architectural details and will be 'lost' when adjoining shops follow suite. The streetscene will then generally appear devoid of character and disjointed. Where a shopfront extends across more than one building, it should maintain visual separation between the buildings.

381. The following list outlines the points to be considered when designing new shopfronts:

Fascia Boards and Signage
  • The size and proportions of fascia boards should reflect the scale of the overall building and correspond to the fascia's of adjoining shopfronts.
  • They should not encroach on upper floors or obscure adjoining buildings or architectural features.
  • Where possible fascias should be designed to sensitively incorporate, and where necessary restore, existing architectural features, such as decorative pilasters, corbels, cornices and mouldings.
  • The use of highly reflective glossy materials should be avoided. Lettering on fascia boards should be painted, engraved, fixed or projected in a style and colour appropriate to the character of the building and the area.
  • Frontages of adjoining buildings should be kept separate. Where a shop extends across more than one building fascias, advertisements should not extend across what was originally one building.

Shop Windows and Doorways

  • Large expanses of glass appear flimsy and unsupported and should be avoided. Vertical subdivisions or mullions, which correspond to the proportions of the upper floors, should be used to reduce the scale and improve the appearance of the shopfront at ground floor level.
  • Shaped or decorative mullions and panelling may, where appropriate, be used to give additional detail to traditional shopfronts.
  • Recessed doorways should also be used to reduce the scale of shopfronts and to bring relief to the retail frontage. (This will need careful consideration and detailing to avoid anti-social behaviour.)
  • Easy access for all users is an essential element any shopfront design. Entrances should be flush with the pavement and wide enough to allow easy access for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
  • Access ramps to mitigate changes in level should be integrated into the shop (perhaps as part of a recessed doorway) and must not be an afterthought that adds clutter to the forecourt.

Corporate Image

  • Firms with a corporate image or 'in house styles' should adopt a flexible approach to shopfront design and tailor their branding to complement the building features and its location.

Stallrisers, Pilasters and Cornices

  • Stallrisers improve the proportions of a shopfront by providing a solid visual base.
  • Stallrisers also serve a practical purpose by providing a protective barrier between the shop and the street, and they raise the window display so it is more visible to the shopper.
  • Pilasters and cornices provide a frame for the shopfront and give visual support to the upper floors.

Materials and Colours

  • The materials used in all shopfronts should be high quality and durable and sympathetic to the overall building design and the wider streetscene.
  • Traditional materials such as wood, brick, glass, stone or brass, or good quality modern materials chosen to compliment the building and the surrounding area, should be used.
  • Garish or vibrant colours will not be permitted especially in conservation areas.

Canopies and Blinds

  • Canopies and blinds can be used to add colour and variety to the streetscene as well as provide shade for shoppers and produce.
  • Where installed, shopfront canopies and blinds should be made of canvas and be retractable.
  • Where a shop is part of a parade, individual units need not necessarily be identical but they should have some regard to the character of the streetscene.
  • Sufficient headroom should be maintained below the canopy to allow the free flow of pedestrians.
  • Canopies and blinds must be free from advertising unless advertising consent has been granted. Each application will be assessed on its merits.
  • See below for parasols and umbrellas.

Pavement Cafes

  • External seating for cafes, restaurants and bars brings vitality to the streetscene and will be encouraged where it does not cause obstruction or impede the flow of pedestrians. A minimum of 2 metre width of unobstructed pavement should be maintained although more may be appropriate in certain cases for example in the High Street and other pedestrainised areas.
  • In some cases it may be appropriate to segregate the seating area from the general pedestrian flow by using screens or barriers. Where these are proposed they should normally be freestanding, lightweight and removable and should be packed away at the end of the day, although in some cases, where it would not obstruct pedestrian flow, more permanent structures (e.g. planters) may be allowed.
  • Where proposed, umbrellas should also complement the street furniture, business and streetscene. Larger more continental style umbrellas for commercial use should be considered where space allows. Advertising on the screens and umbrellas should be kept to a minimum and will require advertisement consent. Plain designs are preferred. Each application will be assessed on its merits.
  • Proposals for pavement cafes should include a well co-ordinated range of attractive high quality furniture that makes a positive contribution to the streetscene. A co-ordinated style of furniture should be used and the design should reflect the business and enhances the streetscene. Lightweight plastic 'garden type' furniture will not be considered acceptable. Wooden picnic benches will not be acceptable on the highway in built up areas, but may be more acceptable in parks, gardens and in seafront location where space allows. What is considered appropriate will depend on the type of business and the location.
  • A Highway licence will be required before furniture can be placed on the highway.

For further information on licensing see Council Policy and Guidelines for Tables and Chairs on the Highway which can be viewed at


  • External displays can also add vitality and interest to the streetscene (e.g. florists). They should be arranged in an attractive way which enhances the streetscene and does not cause obstruction.
  • Displays should be retained within the forecourt are unless agreed in advance and licensed by the Council.
  • A-Boards add clutter to the streetscene and will be discouraged especially where they are located off the forecourt. Almost all A-boards will require planning consent.

Further information on licensing see the Council's Policy for Advertising Materials on the Public Highway can be found on the Council's wesbsite www.southend

Shelters and Compounds for Smokers

  • Where required, smoking areas should use high quality materials and be positioned in an appropriate location (away from the highway and residential accommodation as far as possible) and designed to complement the character of the existing building. They should not overhang the highway.
  • Adequate arrangements should be made for litter collection and reasonable steps should be taken to reduce noise pollution.

5.3.7 Security Shutters

382. In many areas security is becoming an important issue in the design of new and existing shopfronts. Whilst the Council recognises the need for such precautions, it is keen to ensure that security shutters become an integral part of the shopfront design and are not harmful to the wider streetscene.

383. Solid or micro perforation shutters in particular, have a detrimental affect on townscape, creating 'dead' frontages, attracting graffiti and fly posting, and generally destroying the appearance of an area. When shut, solid shutters also prevent internal surveillance of the building. This type of shutter will not be considered acceptable.

384. Punched security shutters or grilles which retain visibility into the window, and which are fully integrated into the design of the shopfront, are more acceptable. These must be installed so that the housing is hidden behind the fascia, not fixed on the outside. All shutters and grilles must be powder coated or painted if visible from the public realm.

385. In some locations specially designed grilles can enrich the streetscene by providing an element of public art.

386. The installation of all roller shutters (solid or perforated), external folding shutters, external roller grilles and removable or demountable grilles will require planning permission.

Shutter Alternatives

387. Various design techniques can be employed, other than security shutters, to reduce the impact of crime and should be considered. For example:

  • Dividing up windows with mullions and using smaller panels of glass can be less of a temptation to crime and are easier and cheaper to replace.
  • Window panes can also be laminated for extra strength.
  • Installing solid stallrisers at the base of the shopfront also reduces the risk of ram raiding.

See also Section Secured by Design

(1)5.3.8 Beach Huts

388. Beach huts add interest and vitality to the seafront are an important part of its character. Southend has two distinct types of beach hut - those on the beach in Thorpe Bay, have verandas and more detailed entrances and those on the promenade in Shoeburyness are much simpler in design. As with all buildings the design of new or replacement huts must have regard to context and draw reference from its neighbours, particularly in terms of scale, materials, entrance and roof design. They must be located to respect the established frontage line and to maintain a similar separation distance. Verandas are a key feature and must be included in the design where they are an important part of the local character. All shutters and windows should be opened inwards so as not to cause obstruction and be located where they will not cause loss of privacy to their neighbours.

389. Installing roller shutters on beach huts is not encouraged. However, where beach huts are subject to repeated vandalism they will be considered although this will only be contemplated on the promenade where the predominant design is for a plain flat frontage. In these cases the shutter housing should be concealed within the building and the shutter should be powder coated to match the other elevations. Roller shutters are not considered appropriate for those huts directly on the beach which are characterised by verandas and small entrance doors. In these cases alternative security arrangements should be made.

390. All beach huts should be constructed of timber ship-lap boarding which must be painted (or stained where appropriate). Colours that add vitality to the beachscape and will be welcomed.

5.4 Telecommunications

'The Government's policy is to facilitate the growth of new and existing telecommunications systems whilst keeping the environmental impact to a minimum.' (PPG8: Telecommunications)

(2)5.4.1 Antennae and Masts

391. Telecommunication masts can be obtrusive but for operational reasons must be located in positions that give a direct clear line of sight between antennae. They can have a dominant impact on the surrounding townscape and their siting is therefore crucial. The Council's overall objective is to ensure that the positioning of telecommunications minimises their impact on the environment without prejudicing the progress of the telecommunications industry.

392. Where located on buildings, antennae should be set well back from the frontage so that their impact is minimised, respect the scale of the building and be appropriately coloured to blend with their surroundings. Larger masts and towers should be reserved for shared use by several operators and should if possible, be sited on industrial land where they will have significantly less impact.

393. Antennae disguised as street furniture tend to be the least obtrusive.However, care should be taken to ensure that they match, in terms of style, height and colour, the other street furniture in the vicinity.

394. The siting of associated equipment cabins must also be carefully considered so as to minimise the visual impact and not hinder sight lines and pedestrian movement. They must be powder coated a dark colour and screened with landscaping where appropriate.

(1)5.4.2 Satellite Dishes

Policy Link - Saved BLP Policy C9 - Satellite Antennae

395. With the growing popularity of satellite television and the increasing use of satellite technology in business the number of satellite dishes being installed is steadily increasing. Satellite dishes are unsightly and can have a significant detrimental impact on townscape. In many cases planning permission is not required to install the dish on a residential property (1 per house or block of flats, subject to conditions). However, it must be sited so as to minimise its visual impact on the external appearance of the building and on the streetscene. Satellite dishes on commercial properties will require planning permission. For larger residential and commercial buildings consideration should be given at an early stage to the integration of satellite facilities as part of the overall building design so that they do not appear in an unattractive add hoc way after completion. Residents of flatted blocks will normally be required to share satellite equipment


396. The position of the dish should respect the character and architectural features of the building particularly in conservation areas. If a dish is poorly sited and could reasonably be positioned less conspicuously elsewhere, the Council may require you to re-site it. (Siting on elevations not visible from the street is preferable).

397. Possible suitable locations for the siting of satellite antennae could be:

  • Within roof valleys
  • On the roofs of rear extensions
  • On a lower roof or a garage
  • Where the antennae is shielded from public view by roof parapets, chimney stacks or other projections
  • On walls not fronting the street
  • In rear gardens

The impact of satellite dishes may also be reduced by:

  • Blending the colour of the antennae with the colour of the background
  • Not siting the antennae where it is readily visible against the sky.
  • Installing a communal satellite dishes for flatted blocks.

For further information see Planning Advice Note 4 Satellite Dishes which is available on the Council's website

Section Five Checklist

Common Issues for all Types of Development

Are the elevations well resolved with good structure, balance, articulation and detailing?

Does the scheme use high quality materials that are appropriate for the location? Have sustainably sourced or local materials and techniques been used wherever possible?

Is the main entrance clearly identifiable from the street? Is the entrance overlooked?


Has the landscaping scheme been designed as an integral part of the overall scheme? Have key existing trees and landscaping features been retained and protected during development? Is the proposed landscaping scheme sufficient to soften the impact of the new development and enhance the outlook for the users? Are plants suitable for dry coastal conditions proposed?

Does the boundary treatment give sufficient enclosure and privacy and relate well to the streetscene? Are the public and private spaces and boundaries of the scheme clearly defined?


Are the highway designs and junctions safe and fit for purpose? Does the layout provide sufficient access for emergency, servicing and refuse vehicles?


Does the development provide sufficient off street parking for its location? Is the car parking well-integrated and situated so that it supports the streetscene?*

Is the parking area well lit and landscaped so as not to appear over dominant? Are the proposed surface materials high quality and porous?

Have enough secure cycle storage facilities been successfully incorporated into the design?


Have the servicing, utilities and plant been hidden from public view? Are the refuse and recycling facilities convenient, off the public highway and integral to the design of the scheme?

Residential Schemes

Private Amenity Space

Has private amenity space and parking been provided for all residents? Is the landscaping of public and private amenity spaces of high quality and inspiring design? Are the amenity spaces of a sufficient size and shape to be usable?

Are the room sizes and specifications compatible with Lifetime Homes Standards?

Extensions to existing buildings

Is the type and siting of extension appropriate given the constraints of the site and the character of the area?

Is the extension of an appropriate scale and subservient to the parent building?

Is the design of the extension well resolved? Does the design respect the character and proportions of the original building?

Do the new openings have a structured relationship with the existing fenestration? Do the materials and window styles complement those of the parent building?

Does the design of the extension, including the roof, integrate well with the existing building?

Where appropriate to the local character, has sufficient separation been retained between the proposed extension and the neighbouring property?


Where appropriate, does the conversion retain the original character of the building? Do new openings have a positive relationship with the existing fenestration?

Are the utility boxes hidden from public view?

Non-Residential Schemes

Is the advertising and signage of an appropriate design and scale for the location? Does it respect the style and architectural features of the parent building?

Is any open storage and / or display appropriately enclosed or screened to protect public amenity?

Is the plant concealed or integrated into the overall design?

Are the servicing arrangements hidden from public view?Does the shopfront design have a positive relationship with the parent building? Are the security shutters seamlessly integrated into the shopfront design and of an open nature?

*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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