Waveney Local Plan

Design Quality

236 Cambridge Housing8.155 The National Planning Policy Framework identifies high quality design and amenity standards as a core planning principle. Section 7 of the Framework sets national planning policy on design. Local plans are expected to develop robust policies which set out the quality of development expected for the area. Design considerations are not limited to the design of buildings and will also apply to connections between people and places as well as integrating new development in to the natural, built and historic environment. Weight should be given to innovative designs which help to improve the standard of design in the area. Where appropriate, design projects should be referred to a design review panel. National Planning Practice Guidance seeks to use planning policies to improve crime prevention, access and inclusion, safe and connected streets, cohesive neighbourhoods and provision of services.

8.156 A framework of good design principles provides guidance for the design of new development without imposing architectural styles or stifling creativity. Application of such principles can accommodate different architectural styles whilst complementing and strengthening local distinctiveness. Innovative design is encouraged where it demonstrates a high quality design approach and is respectful of its setting.

8.157 It is a primary aim of the planning system that development should deliver good standards of amenity for existing and future occupiers and surrounding uses and does not generate significant harmful effects. Harmful effects can arise from overlooking, loss of privacy, noise and light pollution, and overbearing development amongst others. Such effects can be triggered by individual developments or as a result of cumulative impacts. The impact can be acute or dispersed, affecting the general amenity or tranquillity of an area.

8.158 It is vitally important that new development integrates with its surroundings. Design of new development should take account of important landscape or topographical features and make best use of them. Retention and/or enhancement of natural and semi-natural features will help with the integration of new development and provide biodiversity and drainage benefits. They can improve ecological connectivity by providing green links and networks. These could include woodlands, trees, hedgerows, ponds, watercourses, and geological features amongst others. Landscaping, both hard and soft, makes a key contribution to the overall quality and feel of development and proposals should provide details of good quality landscaping. Particular care should be taken with developments on the edge of settlements, ensuring the development is readily integrated in to the overall setting.

8.159 Promoting public safety and discouraging crime and disorder are important outputs of a well designed scheme. Development proposals should incorporate 'Secured by Design' principles and encourage natural surveillance over public areas. Particular care will be required in the design of car parking areas, landscaped areas, public spaces and pedestrian routes in order to avoid creating crime and disorder issues.

8.160 Development must facilitate access for all people to carry out their everyday activities as much as possible. New development should include positive measures to promote access for all, regardless of age, mobility or disability.

8.161 As stated previously, Waveney has an ageing population and incidence of dementia is increasing across the country as the age of the population increases. The RTPI has produced detailed guidance on how developments can be designed to support people with dementia[1] . Creating familiar, legible, distinctive, accessible, comfortable and safe environments can improve the ability of people living with dementia to live well. Dementia friendly design principles should be incorporated where appropriate using the principles outline in the policy below. Specifically, the larger sites allocated in this Local Plan by Policies WLP2.4, WLP2.12, WLP2.15 and WLP3.1 should be designed in order to meet these principles.

8.162 Developments should facilitate accessibility and connectivity within and across the site. Existing footpaths, cycle routes and bridleways on the site should be retained. Links should be incorporated to new and/or existing transport routes of all types outside of the site. Car parking should be well integrated in developments and car dominated environments avoided.

8.163 Recycling and waste management is an important element of a well designed and properly functioning development. Therefore adequate and appropriate provision for the storage and collection of waste and recycling bins must be integrated into development proposals.

8.164 Where open space is provided this shall be designed to a high standard and be well integrated into the surrounding area to encourage people to use it and enhance the public realm. New open space should demonstrate a clear function and be of a size and layout to provide recreation and public amenity value for the community in the long term.

8.165 Each new area of open space should have at least two good street frontages and be well overlooked, with adjacent properties facing the open space as much as possible. Entrances and connections with streets and spaces should be also be well overlooked and support desire lines. Good quality planting and landscaping should be provided that will support formal and informal activities such as play and stimulate visual interest. Where areas for informal ball games are provided these should be level. The planting and landscaping should connect into the wider green infrastructure network wherever possible in order to support wildlife and enhance the public realm.

8.166 The Council has received feedback indicating there is a perception that design of development in the District is not as strong as it should be. Effective design policies alongside understanding and enhancing the distinctive qualities of the District are key to addressing this issue. 'Building for Life 12' is a Government backed standard for well designed homes and neighbourhoods. It is intended to guide discussions between Local Planning Authorities, developers and other stakeholders and encourage better designed development. It features a traffic light scoring system across 12 categories to guide assessment of a development. In order to raise design standards, major residential developments[2] will be expected to perform extremely positively when assessed using Building for Life 12. This will mean scoring green outcomes of the vast majority of indicators and avoiding red outcomes unless there are exceptional circumstances.

8.167 Feedback from Anglian Water suggests that there is limited capacity for combined sewers to accept new surface water flows from new development and that sustainable drainage systems should be the preference for dealing with surface water. Sustainable drainage systems can take up large areas of land on development sites and therefore significantly influence the layout. However, this should not be to the detriment of good urban design. Sustainable drainage systems should be integrated into the green infrastructure provision on the site and complement the overall landscaping scheme of the site. Sustainable drainage systems should not be surrounded by palisade fencing and where restrictions of access is required due to safety considerations, these should be innovatively designed by low impact barriers such as landscaping or planting. 

Policy WLP8.29 - Design

Development proposals will be expected to demonstrate high quality design which reflects local distinctiveness. In so doing proposals should:

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the form and character of the built and natural environment and use this understanding to complement local character and distinctiveness;
  • Respond to local context and the form of surrounding buildings in relation to:
    • the overall scale and character
    • layout
    • site coverage
    • height and massing of existing buildings
    • the relationship between buildings and spaces and the wider street scene or townscape
    • and by making use of materials and detailing appropriate to the local vernacular;
  • Take account of any important landscape or topographical features and retain and/or enhance existing landscaping and natural and semi-natural features on site;
  • Protect the amenity of the wider environment, neighbouring uses and provide a good standard of amenity for future occupiers of the proposed development;
  • Take into account the need to promote public safety and deter crime and disorder;
  • Create permeable and legible developments which are easily accessed and used by all, regardless of age, mobility and disability;
  • Provide highway layouts with well integrated car parking and landscaping which create a high quality public realm, avoiding perception of a car dominated environment;
  • Include hard and soft landscaping schemes to aid the integration of the development into its surroundings; and
  • Ensure that the layout and design incorporates adequate provision for the storage and collection of waste and recycling bins.

Development proposals which fail to meet the above criteria will be refused planning permission.

Where open space is provided this shall be designed and landscaped to a high standard to enhance the public realm. It should demonstrate a clear function and support formal and informal activities and wildlife. Good connections, overlooking and a strong relationship to the street and nearby properties must be provided.

Major residential development proposals will be supported where they perform positively when assessed against Building for Life 12 guidelines. Developments should avoid red outcomes unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Innovative design will be strongly supported where it meets the above criteria.

Developments should use sustainable drainage systems to drain surface water. Sustainable drainage systems should be integrated into the landscaping scheme and green infrastructure provision of the development and not detract from the design quality of the scheme.

Neighbourhood Plans can, and are encouraged to, set out design policies which respond to their own local circumstances.


1. http://www.rtpi.org.uk/media/2213533/dementia_and_town_planning_final.compressed.pdf [back]
2. As defined in the Development Management Procedure Order (2015). At the time of writing this was developments of 10 or more. [back]