Planning Portal

DCAN 8: Housing in Existing Urban Areas
Maintaining Environmental Quality

4.1 Adaptation to changing circumstances and demands is a recurrent theme in established residential areas, and these processes of change are important in ensuring that contemporary demands are met, enabling continued investment in and maintenance of the built stock. However, change needs to be managed carefully in these areas, to ensure that the quality of the residential environment is at least maintained, if not enhanced.
4.2 The balance between recognising the need for change, and the need to protect established quality is particularly important in suburban areas dating from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. In these instances, not only is the quality of the urban environment typically high, but the demands for development are also often very strong, encouraging developers to seek to maximise the amount of floor space which can be accommodated on any given plot.
4.3 Increased pressure for development has threatened the established character and quality of many mature residential neighbourhoods, and in these areas the acceptability of intensive development will depend on more than just good design. Policy QD 1 in PPS 7 - ‘Quality Residential Environments’, states that ‘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.’
4.4 The successful integration of new housing in established residential areas requires very sensitive urban design, landscape and architectural approaches. This is necessary in order to avoid the prospect of eroding, or even destroying, the character and qualities which make an area an attractive place to live and visit. The approach taken should:
  • maintain and where possible enhance environmental quality;
  • respect the privacy and preserve the amenity of existing residents;
  • reinforce the character and qualities which make an area an attractive place to live and visit;
  • ensure good practice principles in the design of buildings and landscaping of surroundings; and
  • aim to provide a safe and secure environment.
4.5 A failure to take the above factors into account can often result in new housing in established residential areas adversely affecting environmental quality in various ways.
4.6 For example, intensifying the scale and massing of buildings can lead to a loss of valued open garden spaces along with mature trees and shrubs. When combined with the impact of ancillary facilities including car parking and refuse storage, such intensifi cation of development, if unchecked, may undermine the qualities that attract people, and important parts of the built heritage could be damaged beyond repair.
4.7 It is also important that full account is taken of the potentially damaging effect of cumulative changes in a neighbourhood, by which individual proposals, although not detrimental in isolation, could be judged to be detrimental when considered alongside other recently approved development.
4.8 In established residential areas, development proposals will therefore need to be considered in terms of their relationship to their setting, and should respect the physical, social and environmental context.
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