Planning Portal

PPS 7: Quality Residential Environments
Policy QD 1

Policy QD 1 Quality in New Residential Development
Planning permission will only be granted for new residential development where it is demonstrated that the proposal will create a quality and sustainable residential environment. The design and layout of residential development should be based on an overall design concept that draws upon the positive aspects of the character and appearance of the surrounding area.
In established residential areas proposals for housing development will not be permitted where they would result in unacceptable damage to the local character, environmental quality or residential amenity of these areas.
In Conservation Areas and Areas of Townscape Character housing proposals will be required to maintain or enhance their distinctive character and appearance. In the primarily residential parts of these designated areas proposals involving intensification of site usage or site coverage will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances.
All proposals for residential development will be expected to conform to all of the following criteria:
  1. the development respects the surrounding context and is appropriate to the character and topography of the site in terms of layout, scale, proportions, massing and appearance of buildings, structures and landscaped and hard surfaced areas;
  2. features of the archaeological and built heritage, and landscape features are identified and, where appropriate, protected and integrated in a suitable manner into the overall design and layout of the development;
  3. adequate provision is made for public and private open space and landscaped areas as an integral part of the development. Where appropriate, planted areas or discrete groups of trees will be required along site boundaries in order to soften the visual impact of the development and assist in its integration with the surrounding area;
  4. adequate provision is made for necessary local neighbourhood facilities, to be provided by the developer as an integral part of the development;
  5. a movement pattern is provided that supports walking and cycling, meets the needs of people whose mobility is impaired, respects existing public rights of way, provides adequate and convenient access to public transport and incorporates traffic calming measures;
  6. adequate and appropriate provision is made for parking;
  7. the design of the development draws upon the best local traditions of form, materials and detailing;
  8. the design and layout will not create conflict with adjacent land uses and there is no unacceptable adverse effect on existing or proposed properties in terms of overlooking, loss of light, overshadowing, noise or other disturbance; and
  9. the development is designed to deter crime and promote personal safety.
Any proposal for residential development which fails to produce an appropriate quality of design will not be permitted, even on land identified for residential use in a development plan.

Justification and Amplification

4.1 The Department wishes to secure a high quality of design, layout and landscaping in all new housing developments to ensure more attractive and sustainable residential environments for present and future generations. This emphasis on quality and sustainability means that these matters are considered as important as the suitability of the site in deciding whether to grant planning permission.
4.2 The task of designing new places with a sense of quality and sustainability, and with local distinctiveness, requires considerable skill. There is no single or universal version of quality design. What is right in one place might be quite unsuitable in another.
4.3 Quality design comes from achieving a balanced response to all the factors influencing a scheme. It will require housing layouts with individuality and which respond to a local context by making the most of a site’s characteristics and its landscape or townscape setting. Quality design also entails variety and contrast within developments, in layout, in boundaries and planting, and in adapting the buildings and spaces around them, to enhance local distinctiveness. It requires a greater attention to detail and consideration of other matters which contribute to a sense of place, such as the creation of landmarks and the use of public art. Quality design addresses the needs of residents, in particular those of children and the elderly. It encourages pedestrian and cycle movements, makes provision for increased use of public transport, promotes biodiversity and encourages wildlife, integrates open space and, where necessary, accommodates local neighbourhood facilities.
4.4 Quality design will help allow residents to develop a sense of ownership for new housing areas. In larger developments this can be a particular problem, and these should be divided into smaller neighbourhoods, each with its own character and easy access to necessary amenities and other uses.
4.5 The quality of a development resides not only on the design of its parts, but also the totality of what is created – its overall character. It is important therefore that new residential development is based on a clear design concept. Ideally this should be based on a network of spaces rather than a hierarchy of roads. This will help ensure the creation of surroundings with an attractive human scale and a distinctive overall sense of place.
This section contains the following sub-categories.
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