Northern Ireland Planning Service

DCAN 8: Housing in Existing Urban Areas
Backland Development

5.7 There is the potential in appropriate circumstances to integrate new residential development into backland areas to produce a high quality residential environment. However, to be successful, there are a number of important design principles that should be followed. The study of 'Sustainable Residential Quality' (London Planning Advisory Committee, 1998) identifi ed a number of key principles which are reproduced here. The proposals should:
i) relate to a site which has appropriate plot depth and configuration
A fundamental requirement for successful backland development is for the backland plot to be of suffi cient depth to accommodate new housing in a way which provides a quality residential environment for new and existing residents.
Backland development on plot depths of less than 80m is unlikely to be acceptable, except where the existing urban grain is very urban in character, and where careful design can overcome concerns of overlooking and day lighting.
ii) be of a form and scale which respects the local context
It is important to ensure that new development respects the scale and density of existing development. In general the scale and massing of new housing in backland areas should not exceed that of the existing dwellings fronting the surrounding streets.
iii) achieve a coherent and legible form
A coherent form is important for all new development, however, it will be different for backland schemes with through access and those without. A through access will effectively sub-divide a large perimeter block into two smaller blocks thus maintaining legibility. Where the development is effectively a cul-de-sac, buildings will be most legible when they are organised into crescents, clusters and squares.
iv) integrate existing landscape features
Where trees or landscape features form part of a backland plot, the design should seek to retain these and integrate them into the new development.
v) provide a residential aspect onto the new road
New residential development should seek to reinforce the existing organisation of the fronts and backs of the dwellings. It should also seek to organise aspects to increase street overlooking where this is defi cient.
vi) take care over the integration of the existing and new landscapes and streets
The threshold between the new development and surrounding streets requires very careful attention. The aim must be to achieve continuity in design and character in terms of both the streetscape and landscape. It should not simply be seen as an add-on or solely a road engineering issue.
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