Draft PPS14 Sustainable Development in the Countryside
Policy CTY 10: Justification & Amplification
4.70 Traditional buildings in the countryside evolved in response to their setting and function on the land. They blend sympathetically with their surroundings and do not appear incongruous in the landscape. It is essential that similar care is exercised in the siting and design of new buildings to ensure they too can integrate harmoniously with their surroundings and thereby protect the amenity and character of our countryside.
4.71 The determination of whether a new building integrates into the landscape is not a test of invisibility; rather it requires an assessment of the extent to which the development of the proposed site, including necessary site works, will blend in unobtrusively with its surroundings.
4.72 The main criteria against which the degree of visual impact will be considered include:
- the location of the site within the landscape, the position of the building within the site and its relationship with surrounding buildings. his will help determine whether the development will be a prominent feature in the landscape;
- the attributes of the site and its landscape surroundings and whether these provide sufficient enclosure for the new building. This includes the existence or otherwise of natural boundaries and/or a visual backdrop, and whether there is any intervening vegetation or natural features between the site and critical views; and
- the suitability of the design of the building for the site and its locality, including its form, scale and massing.
4.73 The assessment of integration will be judged from critical views along stretches of the public road network; shared private lane-ways serving existing or approved dwellings; public rights of way and other areas of general public access and assembly, e.g. a car park. There may also be occasions where combined views from individual private laneways, located in close proximity to each other, will be relevant in assessing integration.
4.74 New buildings that would read as skyline development or occupy a top of slope/ridge location or otherwise be a prominent feature in the landscape will be unacceptable.
4.75 New buildings should be sited to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by existing mature planting, hills, slopes or other natural features to provide suitable enclosure. These features can provide a visual backdrop to development and equally where located in the foreground between the site and critical views can assist integration by filtering views of the new building. A group of existing buildings, such as a farm complex may also provide an opportunity to sensitively integrate a new building provided this does not adversely impact on rural character (see Policy CTY 11).
4.76 Where trees provide enclosure or a backdrop to a site they should be retained and where necessary augmented by new planting with native or other species characteristic of the area. This will assist the integration of the new building and help promote biodiversity. Care should be taken to ensure that an appropriate distance is maintained between tree root systems and building foundations, so neither is compromised.
4.77 While new tree planting for integration purposes will be considered together with existing landscape features, new planting alone will not be sufficient. A building on an unacceptable site can not be successfully integrated into the countryside by the use of landscaping. New planting will inevitably take a considerable length of time to mature and in the interim will not mitigate the impact of new development. Similarly a new building that relies on significant earth works, such as mounding or cut and fill for integration will be unacceptable.
4.78 Due to the widespread views generally available in flat landscapes or exposed hill areas it is all the more important to ensure that new buildings integrate well with their surroundings. In such areas, poor siting and design carries with it a greater potential for adverse impact on visual amenity and rural character. Particular care is therefore required in site selection so that new buildings will integrate into these landscapes.