Policy GP/QP: Establishing high quality landscape and public realm

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

The policy will set out our requirements for the quality of design of landscape and public realm proposals.

Proposed policy direction

Developers will be required to demonstrate how their proposals meet the following expectations:

Enabling local communities:

  • Ensure new and enhanced existing routes are designed inclusively, prioritising a pedestrian led movement hierarchy including generous and level footways that avoids street clutter.
  • Include seating, drinking water fountains, shade and shelter, bicycle parking, street lighting, signage and public art, designed in a coordinated and needs-led approach which does not obstruct the public realm or create street clutter.
  • Parking should not reduce the functionality of open spaces, and if on street should be inset in an expanded footway to allow pedestrian movements when not occupied.

Enhance connectivity:

  • Ensure that new and existing public realm seamlessly connects, and that the quality and function of existing routes are enhanced.
  • Establish streets and open spaces that are well defined, and which clearly demarcate public and private space.
  • Create streets that respond to their levels of use while not allowing vehicular traffic to dominate.

Respond to climate:

  • Be landscape led, by retaining and enhancing existing features including trees, natural habitats, boundary treatments and historic street furniture and/or surfaces that positively contribute to the quality and character of an area.
  • Ensure species are selected that enhance biodiversity through the use of native planting and/or species capable of adapting to our changing climate.
  • Integrate surface water management through design to enable pedestrian accessibility and planting, retaining existing natural features where possible, do not pave over front gardens if this is compromised.
  • Factor microclimate into design proposals and that public spaces receive adequate sunlight.

Integrate with local character

  • Respond to its context and relate to the character and intended function of the spaces and surrounding buildings through the use of high quality and well detailed materials that are easily maintained.
  • Ensure that the right growing conditions and future management regimes for landscape schemes are secured and implemented, and ensure that space for trees and other planting is incorporated that is appropriate to the scale of buildings.
  • Provide appropriate types of open space whether in urban or more rural places that link into other sequences of existing or new landscape spaces and wider settings.

Why is this policy needed?

Public realm helps to define the character and experience of great places, whether within Cambridge or one of the surrounding villages, and it is crucial that these positive qualities are maintained into the future.  The importance of creating and protecting high quality streets and other open spaces, both public and private, is a key part of adapting to climate change pressures, supporting biodiversity, and promoting active and healthy lifestyles.  The spaces between, around and within buildings, streets, squares, parks and open spaces all play a key role in supporting public life and fostering social interaction. Greater Cambridge’s landscape spaces and public realm are key to creating a sense of place and play an important role in enhancing communities’ quality of life and health and wellbeing and can even play a role in boosting the local economy.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

In the First Conversation you told us that we should make accessible places that were not car dominated, and that supported moving around by walking and cycling. We should make places welcoming and safe, and we should incorporate community facilities and open spaces.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy and relying on national guidance – Not considered a reasonable alternative due to the need to respond to local 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

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 65: Visual pollution
  • Policy 59: Designing landscape and the public realm

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