Policy GP/QD: Achieving high quality development

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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Proposed policy direction

This policy will require proposals to demonstrate how they meet the following expectations:

Designed with communities in mind:

  • Ensure that buildings are orientated to provide natural surveillance and maximise opportunities to create active ground floor uses.
  • Create active edges on to public space by locating appropriate uses, as well as entrances and windows of habitable rooms next to the street.
  • Use design to minimise adverse impact on neighbouring buildings and spaces in terms of privacy and overlooking, sunlight and daylight, overshadowing and other micro climate considerations, artificial lighting, vibration, noise, fumes and odour, and other forms of pollution.
  • Introduce mixed uses proposals in a way that can benefit all occupants where appropriate, avoiding the mixing of incompatible uses

Create local connections:

  • Ensure building entrances and exits are convenient, safe and accessible for all users throughout the day and night, with lighting and security features successfully integrated into the design.

Are climate-positive:

  • Create robust and adaptable building forms that can be successfully adapted and reused, extending their lifespan and reducing the carbon impacts of demolition
  • Successfully integrate functional needs such as refuse, recycling, and bicycle parking does not negatively impact on the existing building or the amenity of neighbouring properties

Contribute and respond to local character:

  • Provide a comprehensive design approach that achieves the successful integration of buildings, routes and spaces between buildings, topography, townscape and landscape.
  • Create attractive and appropriately-scaled built frontages to positively enhance streets and/or public spaces in both urban and rural settings.
  • Use materials and details that are of high quality, that will age well and be easy to maintain, and if an extension or alteration, reflect, or successfully contrast with, the existing building form, through the use of materials and architectural detailing.
  • Ensure that development proposals successfully integrate functional aspects such as waste and recycling, bicycle parking and car parking.
  • Any proposal for a structure that breaks the existing skyline and/or is significantly taller than the surrounding built form will need to demonstrate through visual assessment or appraisal with supporting accurate visual representations, how the proposals enhance the existing landscape and townscape and do not cause unacceptable impact on the historic environment. Major schemes should share a native 3-D file for assessment.

Why is this policy needed?

National planning policy emphasises the need to create a robust policy framework to achieve high quality design and this is supported through the National Planning Practice Guidance: Design: process and tools, and the National Design Guide.  The Greater Cambridge area has a strong track record of delivering high quality design in new development and it is important that this continues.  The Greater Cambridge Local Plan should seek to ensure buildings and places of high quality that can improve wellbeing today and be enduring so that they can be appreciated by future generations.

High quality design goes beyond a pure aesthetic response and includes more detailed matters such as functional design and assessment of impacts on setting and amenity.  High quality design makes places that put people first, promote health and wellbeing and are welcoming, feel safe, are enjoyable and easy to use for everyone.

High quality building design is linked to context, in terms of appropriateness, and to place making in terms of how the proposed development will be sited. Without imposing architectural tastes or styles, it is important that a proposed development is considered in terms of site location, height, scale, form and proportions, along with materials and detailing. Where proposals constitute a ‘tall building’ because they break the skyline and/or are significantly taller than the surrounding built form, then further assessment of impact on setting and contribution to the wider context will be required.  It is important that the policy achieves an approach that is both appropriate to urban and more rural contexts to cover redevelopment within existing contexts as well as development in emerging or new places being created in the wider Greater Cambridge area.

Materials to be used for new buildings should be suitable for their purpose and setting. The durability of materials and how they weather are important factors. All the necessary environmental services, plant, recycling and refuse storage, bicycle and car parking must be considered early in the design process and be successfully integrated into the development to form part of the overall design and not as an afterthought. Such features must be secure and located conveniently but unobtrusively.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

We received a wide range of views during the First Conversation consultation on measures needed to achieve high quality development. Comments included that:

  • New developments should support better access requirements.
  • Developments should include accessible facilities
  • Low carbon lifestyles should be supported.
  • The potential for planting and biodiversity should be maximised.
  • Building standards should be improved
  • High quality design in the new developments should be achieved
  • Design should recognise climate change by maximising potential for latest methods of insulation, on-site water recycling and district heating.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy – Not considered a reasonable alternative due to the need to respond to local design issues.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 5: Great Places

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy HQ/1: Design Principles
  • Policy HQ/2: Public Art and New Development;

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 55: Responding to context
  • Policy 56: Creating successful places
  • Policy 57: Designing new buildings
  • Policy 60: Tall buildings and the skyline in Cambridge
  • Policy 64: Shopfronts, signage and shop security measures
  • Policy 66: Paving over front gardens

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