EXTRACTS FROM THE ESSEX DESIGN GUIDE FOR RESIDENTIAL AND MIXED USE AREAS
The principles listed below are selected as key points to consider in design and layout, but should not be considered as the only parts of the new Guide to which the Council refer, and should be read in conjunction with the appropriate text, as indicated by page numbers in parentheses. This guidance should also be read in the context of the Local Plan policies.
The Principles of Spatial Organisation (Page 5)
The aim of fitting in with the character of traditional towns and villages requires for its fulfilment, the enclosure of space, whether by buildings or by landscape.
Traditionally there are two ways of organising space and buildings:
(i) Rural System - Buildings are set in landscape space
(ii) Urban System - Buildings containing the space
Site Appraisal (Page 6)
The applicant should carry out an appraisal of the site before designing the scheme. In the case of sites larger than 1 hectare (2.5 acres) this site appraisal must precede or accompany the planning application.
Sustainability (Page 9)
Sustainability requirements will need to be addressed in the following respects:
(i) The development should be located in proximity to a town centre or similar set of facilities, and to public transport access. The suitability of location is a Local Plan function.
(ii) The development has a mix of residential and employment uses, tenures and dwelling sizes in order to reduce the need to travel. The Urban Villages concept is commended to developers in this connection.
Any residential development larger then 500 dwellings must incorporate some mixed-use development of an employment and/or retail nature.
(iii) The development is laid out in such a way as to maximise proximity to facilities and public transport and to encourage walking and cycling instead of the use of cars.
(iv) The development is laid out in such a way as to safeguard the existing ecology, improve the natural habitat and minimise heat loss from buildings.
Sustainability issues must be addressed for development sites larger than 1 hectare (2.5 acres).
Permeability and Legibility of the Layout (Page 10)
The layout structure on development sites larger than 1 hectare (2.5 acres) must be both permeable and legible.
A street layout that encourages walking and cycling is permeable, in that it is well connected and offers a choice of direct routes to all destinations. It is also legible, in that it is structured by a distribution of distinctive places and spaces so that it can be ‘read’ and is thus easy to find one’s way round.
Public Open Space (Page 15)
All open space in a development should be obviously useful and visually pleasant.
Whilst parks should be the key open space provision, there is a role for additional, smaller, more localised open space in order to create a more varied townscape.
Where there are a number of family dwellings with less than 100 sq. m. gardens, DOE Circular 79/72 recommended provision of play space on the basis of 3 sq. m. per child bed space would result in 3-4 per cent of the site being given over to children’s play space.
Continuity of Frontage (Page 27)
In order to enclose spaces and create continuous pedestrian routes, as much continuity of built frontage as possible should be achieved.
Relationship of House to Road (Page 28)
In order to enclose space effectively, buildings will normally be sited at the back edge of the public footway. This will require car parking to be sited between houses, beneath upper storey structures, or within garages to the rear. This has the advantage of reducing the visual impact of on-site parked cars. It also has the advantage of increasing the amount of site area available for private rear gardens.
Internal Privacy (Pages 29 and 31)
(i) Front Privacy
It is recommended that designers return to the traditional format of vertically proportioned windows and houses set forward to the back edge of the footway, or, exceptionally, set back behind eye level hedged or walled front gardens.
(ii) Rear Privacy
As a minimum every effort should be made to avoid overlooking of rear-facing living room windows. This may be achieved (a) by remoteness or (b) by design, or by a combination of the two.
Daylight and Sunlight (Page 30)
Housing layouts should be designed to maximise daylight and sunlight to dwellings as far as possible but not to the exclusion of other considerations, such as privacy or the achievement of an attractive streetscape.
Rear Privacy (Page 33)
As a minimum every effort should be made to avoid overlooking of rear-facing living room windows. This may be achieved (a) by remoteness, or (b) by design, or by a combination of the two. Usually privacy achieved by design is more effective.
(The Council will normally require an “eye-to-eye” distance of at least 35 metres where a living room is overlooked from an opposing dwelling, but this may be reduced where privacy can be achieved by design).
Where new housing backs on to the rear of existing housing, existing residents are entitled to a greater degree of privacy to their rear garden boundary, and therefore where the rear faces of the new houses are approximately parallel to the existing, the rear of new houses may not encroach any closer than 15 metres to an existing rear boundary, even though with a closer encroachment 35 metres between the backs of houses would still be achieved
Private Sitting Out Areas (Page 33)
All houses should have a private sitting out area not overlooked by adjacent or opposite living rooms or sitting out areas. This area should extend at least 3 metres and be screened from adjacent properties by walls or fences above eye level from a potential vantage point.
Garden Size (Page 33)
Most types of houses shall require a minimum private (i.e. rear) garden area of 100 sq.m.
Circumstances under which the insistence on a minimum 100 sq.m. garden area is inappropriate are:
(i) Houses of one or two bedroom size
(ii) Walled patios or private courtyards - minimum garden areas of 50 sq. m. will be acceptable provided a private sitting out area for each house can be achieved, unoverlooked by any window either at ground or first floor.
(iii) Houses facing, backing onto, or adjacent to a substantial area of well landscaped and properly maintained communal open space.
(iv) Houses performing a particular role in the layout e.g. houses which turn external corners or perform a townscape role.
(In practice, the Council may accept garden sizes of 75 sq. m. in the case of two bedroom properties and 50 sq. m. for one-bedroom dwellings.)
(i) For two or more bed-roomed flats a communal residents’ garden area must be provided on the basis of a minimum area of 25 sq. m. per flat, or
(ii) A balcony or terrace over 5 sq. m. will count towards the total garden provision for the flats. In an urban situation such a balcony or terrace would be acceptable as the outdoor amenity space for a flat.
Accessibility for Disabled People to Dwellings (Page 35)
It is good practice to design for all new dwellings to be able to be visited unassisted by disabled people as far as the entry to the dwelling at least.
Internal Space Provision (Page 40, Appendix A)
The range of dwelling sizes recommended in the Parker Morris report “Homes for Today and Tomorrow”, is a good indication of desirable space standards.
Extendable Homes (Page 40)
For all two-bedroom and smaller houses, applicants must indicate whether or not the house is extendable. If the house is not extendable the initial planning consent will be conditional on the withdrawal of the householder’s right to extend within the limits of the General Permitted Development Order. If the house is extendable the applicant must indicate, as part of the initial planning application, how the house may in future be extended without problems to neighbouring dwellings and curtilages or unacceptable loss of garden area.
Appropriate Use of Materials (Page 47)
Facing and roof materials should be selected from the range of regional materials characteristic of Essex, or, of that part of Essex where the project is located.
Services to Dwellings (Page 51)
Supply and disposal services to dwellings are to be provided in a manner that is technically and visually satisfactory i.e. both inconspicuously and accessibly.
Pedestrian and Cycle Movement (Page 53)
Within new residential areas pedestrian and cycle movement should be convenient, safe and pleasant. Pedestrian routes should be mainly along residential roads, with occasional short links to give pedestrians and cyclists a preferential direct route. Wherever possible pedestrian and cycle routes should be overlooked by the front of dwellings.
Vehicular Movement (Page 54)
Within new residential areas, vehicular movement should be convenient, safe and pleasant, but vehicular access is to be provided for in a way as to be consistent with the achievement of an attractive environment and the needs of the pedestrian or cyclist who share the same space.
Through traffic is to be excluded from new residential areas, and the layout and attractiveness of the environment should be such as to discourage the use of the car for local trips and encourage walking and cycling.
All new residential areas should be divided up into elements not exceeding 700 dwellings. Each of these elements, and any new developments less than 700 dwellings in size and containing a road over 100 metres in length is to be served entirely by roads of a design speed of under 20 miles per hour (30 km per hour).
Car Parking (Page 74)
Car parking should be provided for both residents and visitors at an adequate level and in such locations as to be reasonably convenient, visually inconspicuous and limit opportunities for car related crime.
Adoption and Maintenance of Roads, Footpaths and Open Space (Page 104)
The Local Authority may adopt and maintain those public areas essential to the functioning and appearance of residential development.
Where public adoption is not practical, alternative arrangements shall be required to ensure the proper maintenance of such areas.
Attention is also drawn to Appendix D of the Design Guide (page 106), which sets out a list of planning conditions that the Council, together with other design conditions, would normally attach to the grant of planning permission, as appropriate.