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DCAN 8: Housing in Existing Urban Areas
Building on Local Character

4.14 In addition to the strategic and detailed design principles considered in the previous section, additional advice needs to be followed to ensure that any development and change builds on, and respects the character of established residential areas. PPS 7, states that the Department will need to be satisfied that unacceptable harm will not be caused to local character, environmental quality or residential amenity when new housing proposals are being considered in established residential areas.
4.15 The pattern of streets and spaces, the building materials used, and the landscaping all help to determine the character and identity of an area. Developers can help to build on this character, by responding to and reinforcing locally distinctive patterns of development and culture.
4.16 New development in established residential areas should maintain and where possible enhance the features which together provide these areas with their own local character. Some of the key characteristics which contribute to the distinctive identity and townscape of established residential areas are set out below.

Building lines

  • Set backs from the building line of the street help to contribute to the urban character of an area. In some instances there is no definitive building line with housing on the edge of the footpath. While in other cases a distinctive building line exists, for example, in areas of late Victorian and Edwardian housing where set backs tend to be more generous and are associated with significant soft landscaping.

Boundary treatments

  • Boundary treatments are important in articulating the distinction between the civic space of the street and the private realm of the dwelling. They often consist of existing trees and hedgerow planting which contribute to amenity value and are essential to the character of the area.

Scale of built form

  • The local pattern of streets and open spaces helps to determine the character and identity of the area. In addition, the footprints of existing buildings, and the relationship of the scale of buildings to gardens and open space exert an important influence on the character of an area.

Varied rooflines

  • Historically rooflines have contributed to the character of townscape, and a diverse roofline with a variety of pitches can be considered to improve the richness of the townscape.
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