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Flintshire County Council Unitary Development Plan 2000-2015
Adopted 28th September 2011

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Chapter 5

Design

Relevant Strategic Aims
c. Health, d. Community identity, f. Built Environment
Policy Objectives
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Policy List
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  1. quality - to secure the best possible standards of construction and design for the benefit of present and future generations
  2. local distinctiveness - to safeguard and enhance the unique architectural identity of the plan areas
  3. designing out crime - to create safe and secure places and buildings 

D1 Design Quality, Location and Layout

D2 Design

D3 Landscaping

D4 Outdoor Lighting

D5 Crime Prevention

D6 Public Art

D7 Outdoor Advertisements

Indicators of Policy Performance
Targets
  1. % of applications that have design statements approved
  2. Number of design awards achieved for new developments
 


5 Design

Introduction

5.1 Good design is in the interests of everyone. It makes the built environment responsive to the needs and aspirations of those who use it, whether they live, work or are visitors to the area. It goes far beyond simple stylistic considerations to include improvements in constructional efficiency and sensible maintenance costs. By promoting the highest standards of design in all new development the Plan can help to improve the quality and distinctiveness of Flintshire's towns and villages, attracting inward investment and tourism, reinforcing civic and public pride, and promoting sustainable development.

 

National Planning Policy

TAN 12 “Design” examines what is meant by design:

“the relationship between all elements of the natural and built environment. To create sustainable development, design must go beyond aesthetics and include the social, environmental and economic aspects of the development, including its construction, operation and management, and its relationship to its surroundings.”

 

Policies

D1 Design Quality, Location and Layout

All development must incorporate good standards of design. Development will be permitted only if:

  1. it respects the scale of surrounding development, its location, siting, and layout make the best use of land, minimise the need to travel, and provide a safe and attractive environment;
  2. it is of the highest net density appropriate to its setting and function;
  3. it relates well to local topography, aspect, microclimate, street pattern, orientation and views;
  4. it creates positive and attractive building alignments and frontages;
  5. adequate provision is made for space around buildings, setting of buildings, imaginative parking and landscaping solutions;
  6. maximises the efficient use of resources, minimises the use of non renewable resources and minimises the generation of waste and pollution; and
  7. it is accompanied by design information commensurate with the scale and type of development proposed.

5.2 All new development affects the way we feel about the world around us. Everything we build should be responsive to the functional needs of those who use it, whilst making a positive contribution to the distinctiveness and ambience of our towns, villages and countryside. In short, to build should be to improve, for what we build today will be the legacy we bequeath to future generations.

5.3 To this end applicants for planning permission will be expected to demonstrate how they have taken account of design principles in their development proposals. As a minimum they should provide plans, elevations and, where appropriate, perspectives, which illustrate the setting of the development in its wider context, as well as the design of the specific proposal and its relationship to immediately adjacent spaces and buildings. In addition applicants will be required to provide a short written statement setting out their approach to design, and demonstrating the way in which this contributes towards the County Council's objectives and policies.

5.4 Applicants are advised to consult with the County Council at the earliest stage in the development process, to facilitate full consideration of design issues. This may help to avoid costly delays, and assist in speeding up the planning process and securing continued public acceptance of necessary new development.

5.5 Supplementary Planning Guidance provides further interpretation of development plan policies as an aid to the determination of planning applications. The Council considers that there is local justification for design guidance and that they may be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.

5.6 The County Council has a variety of design guides on a range of issues and has produced a series of Local Planning Guidance Notes. Following adoption of the UDP, the Council intends to formally adopt a comprehensive series of Supplementary Planning Guidance, as set out in policy IMP4 and Appendix 2.

5.7 Developers will be required to produce development briefs for all major or sensitive sites or where the development is likely to have a significant impact on the environment. Some development briefs will be produced jointly with the Local Planning Authority. In such instances, proposals will be expected to meet the requirements of the relevant brief and, where appropriate, conditions will be used to ensure compliance. Development briefs will be used to outline sustainable design requirements.

5.8 The choice of location, the configuration of sites, the density and orientation of buildings, and the layout of associated infrastructure can all have a major influence on the natural as well as the visual and aesthetic quality of the wider environment. Development should be sited so as to avoid detrimentally affecting any features of significant nature conservation, historic or architectural value.

5.9 This policy recognises that the location of new development contributes to the quality both of the local and global environment. The careful siting and design of new buildings can help to make the most efficient use of land, minimise travel and energy consumption, protect the character and appearance of the landscape, and establish a pleasing sense of place for inhabitants and visitors.

5.10 Good design should ensure that new development mitigates the causes of climate change. The design quality, location and layout of a development affects its energy, heat and cooling needs and therefore new development should be designed to minimise carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. Some degree of climate change is already inevitable, so new development should provide effective adaptation to, and resilience against, extreme weather events over the course of its life (e.g. flooding and increased temperatures). In order to be effective, mitigation and adaptation measures need to be considered at an early stage in the design process.

5.11 In siting new development, both the layout of existing buildings and the space around them must be carefully considered. Street design should reflect the importance of maintaining built frontages, reinforcing good quality urban form, and estate layouts should seek to maximise pedestrian safety, reduce traffic speeds and enhance the overall quality of the development.

5.12 The density of any development should reflect the need to make best use of land whilst avoiding over-development. Rather than requiring a standard uniform density across the plan area, the aim will be to achieve a variation in relation to the proximity of public transport, and services. For example higher intensity use should be concentrated near to high streets and bus stops.

 

Other key policies:

 

D2 Design

Development will be permitted only where:

  1. the proposed building and structures are of a good standard of design, form, scale and materials; and
  2. it protects the character and amenity of the locality and adds to the quality and distinctiveness of the local area.

5.13 Successful new development is often that which integrates seamlessly into its surroundings. By incorporating indigenous construction techniques and materials it can complement the distinct local character of a village or town, reinforcing an all important sense of place whilst still retaining individual identity. Supplementary Planning Guidance concerning the use of modern and innovative design and more general issues such as colour, texture, form and materials will be produced by the Council.

5.14 The use of appropriate materials can also make a valuable contribution to the natural environment. Building construction is a great consumer of the earth's resources both through the depletion of finite raw materials, and through the consumption of energy in the manufacturing of materials and the running and maintenance of buildings.

 

Other key policies:

 

D3 Landscaping

New development will be required, where appropriate, to include a hard and soft
landscaping scheme which considers:-

  1. landscape or townscape character of the locality;
  2. the topography of the site;
  3. aspect, microclimate and soil type;
  4. existing man-made and natural features;
  5. existing trees and vegetation;
  6. use of indigenous species and materials;
  7. appropriate boundary treatment; and
  8. nature conservation interests.

In the case of development proposals of a temporary nature, these will be permitted only where adequate provision is made for the full restoration and aftercare of the site on cessation of the use.

5.15 Good landscaping is an essential component of successful development. Landscape will be treated as an integral part of the overall context of the development, rather than proposing piecemeal planting around a site. Hard landscaping should also be designed so as to reflect the local character of its surroundings. For larger scale developments a strategic landscape assessment would be needed, for other developments a detailed site appraisal which may include the visual effects on views and vistas, historic features, topography, microclimate, aspect and biodiversity maximisation would be appropriate.

5.16 Occasionally, planting may be required some distance away from a building to provide suitable screening or to fill a gap in a hedge or tree-line. Landscaping can also act as an effective buffer zone, protecting the interests of adjacent land users and softening otherwise hard edges to urban areas.

5.17 Supplementary guidance on landscape characteristics, species choice, planting configuration and the use of hard landscaping will be adopted within the Plan period.

5.18 In urban areas and larger new schemes on greenfield sites hard landscaping has a particularly important role to play in enhancing the visual quality of developments. The style, quantity and positioning of street furniture, and the choice of materials for paving and other surfaces should enhance the quality of surrounding buildings and streets. Care should be taken to avoid unnecessary clutter, crude detailing, harsh changes in colour or texture, and excessive uncoordinated variation. The overall aim should be to create a consistent design that complements and helps to define the unique sense of place of any given location.

5.19 The principle of sustainability means that the natural and historic environment should be a major consideration when planning and implementing landscaping schemes. Where possible the historic environment should be promoted in a sympathetic manner within schemes. Landscaping can also enhance the overall conservation value of a site and native species from local stock should be used rather than non-native species of a non-local provenance. Landscaping and restoration schemes should also be used to deliver actions identified in national and local Biodiversity Action Plans.

5.20 Proposals of a temporary nature could, for instance, include renewable energy schemes, and telecommunications infrastructure. In addition, where the potential impact of proposals is uncertain a temporary planning permission will frequently be most appropriate. Conditions will be applied to such a permission requiring a mutually agreed scheme of restoration, either at the time of granting the permission or at the point of any cessation of the approved use. The Council would normally expect sites taken out of agricultural use to be restored for farming purposes, particularly where land of high agricultural quality will be affected. However, in the interest of promoting biodiversity, the Council will require developers to produce restoration schemes that pay due regard to safeguarding and enhancing site biodiversity subject to the location, intended after use and physical constraints of the site. Restoration schemes will also be required to safeguard the inherent quality of areas of land of potentially high agricultural quality.

 

Other key policies:

 

D4 Outdoor Lighting

Development will be permitted only where any associated lighting is restricted to the minimum which is necessary to:

  1. ensure public safety and security;
  2. facilitate enjoyment of the physical and visual fabric of the development and its surroundings; and
  3. prevent light pollution by the creation of excessive glare.

5.21 Development proposals may include outdoor lighting for reasons of safety or security and lighting offers great potential for improved design. Artificial illumination can dramatise buildings, enhance open spaces, and improve public safety, but over-provision of light is likely to 'bleach out' architectural detail and destroy the potential interest of the spaces between buildings, as well as causing glare and colour distortion. However, an under-provision can create opportunities for crime and induce fear for safety after dark. Whatever its overall level, the poor installation of lighting can cast excessive light upwards, thereby reducing security, wasting energy and intruding on the night sky.

5.22 In urban areas, new lamps should, where possible, be attached to buildings or to street furniture to avoid the creation of too many obstacles. When considering the need for new street lighting account should be taken of existing sources, such as reflected light from flood lit buildings, before additional provision is proposed.

5.23 In rural areas lighting should be restricted to that which is absolutely necessary for highway safety. Outside settlements, in particular, any necessary road lights should be carefully designed to minimise their impact both on their immediate surroundings and the wider rural night time landscape.

 

Other key policies:

 

D5 Crime Prevention

New development will be permitted only if appropriate measures to reduce the risk of crime have been incorporated sensitively into the proposal where appropriate.

5.24 The County Council are statutorily obliged to consider the Crime & Disorder Act 1998 as a material consideration when determining planning applications and are bound by the joint North Wales Police/Flintshire County Council Crime & Disorder Reduction Strategy. The design and layout of new development offers an opportunity to help reduce the risk and fear of crime either against individuals or property. Such measures can be both physical or psychological and their quality can reduce long term maintenance costs. The Council will require evidence of how measures have been incorporated into the design to achieve this as part of any application for new development.

5.25 The layout of development sites should maximise the potential for natural surveillance by avoiding hidden areas and ensuring that parking and other public spaces are well lit and overlooked by nearby property. Footpaths should be designed to ensure the safety of pedestrians, and the creation of discrete access to the rear of properties should be avoided. Introducing bollards, planters and benches into shopping and employment areas can act as a deterrent to "ram-raiding", and if carefully designed, can improve the general environment of town centres.

5.26 However, there will always be a need to reconcile the desire for crime prevention with the objective of protecting and enhancing visual quality. Consequently, security measures should be as unobtrusive as possible. For example, any closed circuit television and lighting equipment should be sensitively incorporated into existing buildings and structures. Solid steel external shutters will not generally be permitted on shop frontages. Furthermore, crime prevention should not be used as an excuse to eliminate the need for landscaping. Indeed the incorporation of shrub and tree planting can in itself act as a barrier to potential intruders. Supplementary guidance upon this issue will be provided as a part of the guidance to be produced in respect of the wider issue of landscaping.

 

D6 Public Art

In all major, publicly accessible development, the Council will require the incorporation of public art.

5.27 Public art can make a dramatic contribution to the local scene, enlivening civic spaces as well as adding interest and variety to large new employment, retail or community developments. The commissioning of schemes such as statues, fountains, sculptures, patterned walls, brickwork and floor spaces, creative landscaping and street furniture can improve the image of an area, enhancing local distinctiveness, reinforcing civic pride, and reducing the prevalence of vandalism. The County Council has an adopted and updated Arts Strategy and will seek the provision of suitable works of art where there would be social, aesthetic, cultural and educational benefits. Discussion between developers and the Council’s Conservation and Design Officer, Libraries, Culture and Heritage sections will be welcomed in order to devise suitable schemes.

 

D7 Outdoor Advertisements

Outdoor advertisements requiring consent will be permitted where:

  1. they are sensitively designed and located in respect of amenity and public safety; and
  2. the applicant has provided sufficient information to demonstrate that they will not have a detrimental impact on:
  1. the character or use of any building or the surrounding landscape / townscape;
  2. the safe operation of any form of transport; and
  3. the free passage of pedestrians.

5.28 This policy seeks to provide a consistent basis for considering proposals, balancing the requirements of local businesses with the protection of local amenity and safety.

5.29 Advertisements must always be designed and sited so as to harmonise with their setting. Within specially designated areas, such as the AONB, Conservation Areas, Areas of Special Advertisement Control, or on Listed Buildings, considerations of amenity will be given additional weight. Disabled access signs where they are appropriately designed and located will be supported in recognition of the Council's wish to promote high quality provision for people with limited mobility. In order to assess the likely effect of proposals, the Council will require details of the size, materials, colour, illumination, position and number of proposed advertisements. Advertisements should usually be restricted to the name and type of business being carried out. In promoting the linguistic character of the County, the provision of bilingual signage will be welcomed.

5.30 It is particularly important to avoid the proliferation of advance directional signs. To this end, where signs to a number of businesses in one location are requested, the Council will seek shared signage, and where appropriate, a rationalisation of existing signs will be sought. Applicants proposing signs for tourist facilities should contact the County Council's Highways Department to explore their possible qualification for a white on brown sign.

5.31 Proposals for advertisements will be assessed against any supplementary planning guidance subsequently adopted by the County Council. Applications for new shop fronts will be expected to conform to the Local Planning Guidance Note - "Shopfronts and their Advertisements".

 

Other key policies:

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