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Guildford Borough Council

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications - Part 1: Policies

4.5 Design Policies

Policy D1: Place shaping


4.5.1 The design of the built environment has a direct effect upon how places are used. The relationship between buildings, spaces and landscape as well as detailed design and materials are all relevant factors. Good design will influence how people move around our settlements, how they interact and how places make people feel. We place a high value on the importance of good design in the built environment and making places better for people. It is important and fundamentally affects people's lives on a day to day basis.

4.5.2 The NPPF states that the creation of high quality buildings and places is fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, creates better places in which to live and work and helps make development acceptable to communities. Urban design and architecture can contribute to health outcomes through encouragement of more active lifestyles. Development should be encouraged to create places that create mixed communities catering for the needs of different types of people, including the young and old, encourage walking and cycling, improve access to public transport, and ensure that new development connects with existing parks and open spaces for recreation. Building exteriors and public realm should be designed in a way that contributes to pedestrian friendly environments.

4.5.3 We need to accommodate growth over the plan period including the provision of sufficient residential and economic development in order to meet identified needs as outlined elsewhere in this Plan.

4.5.4 It will be important to ensure that new housing and employment areas are designed to respect the existing character of the borough, and create great places for people to live in or use. The development of the strategic sites offers the opportunity of creating their own identity and character.

4.5.5 Through detailed design considerations we can ensure that design quality is an important consideration in the planning process, but we also have an opportunity now to ensure strategic design considerations are in place. The following policy seeks to provide a strategic framework of requirements to achieve this, to be augmented through a more detailed design policy at a later stage.

POLICY D1: Place shaping

(1) All new developments must achieve high quality design and enhance the environment in which they are set.

(2) Residential developments of 25 or more dwellings should:

(a) provide a harmonious, integrated mix of uses, where appropriate, that fosters a sense of community and contributes to inclusive communities that provide the facilities and services needed by them

(b) provide places for communities to meet and interact, such as play and recreation and other public spaces

(c) be designed to facilitate and promote walking, providing a high quality environment for pedestrians, and where possible allowing short walking distances to amenities

(d) create places that are easy to get to and through, foster active lifestyles, are easy to understand and navigate, and feel safe during the day and night, and

(e) be designed to facilitate the delivery of high quality communications infrastructure to support sustainable modern living, and

(f) provide convenient and safe routes through the development and to nearby areas for pedestrians and cyclists.

(3) All new developments will be required to achieve high quality design that responds to distinctive local character (including landscape character) of the area in which it is set. Essential elements of place making include creating economically and socially successful new places with a clear identity that promote healthy living; they should be easy to navigate, provide natural security through layout and design with attractive, well enclosed, and overlooked streets, roads and spaces with clear thought given to the interrelationship of land use to external space.

(4) All new development is expected to have regard to and perform positively against the recommendations set out in the latest Building for Life guidance and conform to the nationally described space standards as set out by the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

(5) New development shall be of a high quality and inclusive design, as per the Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), and all new development will be required to address the following;

Distinct local character

(6) All new development will be designed to reflect the distinct local character of the area and will respond and reinforce locally distinct patterns of development, including landscape setting. Proposals will take account of local design guidance contained within conservation area appraisals, DPD's, neighbourhood plans and SPDs.

(7) Given the size, function and proposed density of the strategic allocations it may not always be desirable to reflect locally distinct patterns of development. These sites must create their own identity to ensure cohesive and vibrant neighbourhoods.

Safe, connected and efficient streets

(8) All new development will be designed to ensure it connects appropriately to existing street patterns and creates safe and accessible spaces. Particular regard shall be given to maximise opportunities for pedestrian and cycle movement and the creation of a high quality public realm.

Network of green spaces and public places

(9) All new development will be designed to maximise the opportunity for and linkages between green spaces and public places, and include high quality landscaping that reflects the local distinctive character.

Crime prevention and security measures

(10) All new development will be designed to reduce opportunities for crime and antisocial behaviour.

Access and inclusion

(11) All new development will be designed to meet the needs of all users, this includes the setting of the building in the wider environment, the location of the building on the plot, the gradient of the plot, transport infrastructure and public realm.

Efficient use of natural resources

(12) All new development will be designed with regard to efficient use of natural resources including passive solar gain to maximise the use of the sun's energy for heating and cooling.

Infrastructure to create smart places

(13) All new development will be designed in a manner that:

(a) supports technological and digital advances, including the provision of sufficient ducting space for future digital connectivity infrastructure;

(b) seeks to achieve high quality digital connectivity, enabling Fibre To The Premise (FTTP) where practical;

(c) enables mobile connectivity within the development;

(d) provides access to services from a range of providers.

(14) Further innovation and provision for 5G, Wifi and other technologies will be encouraged.

Masterplans for strategic sites

(15) Developers will be required to produce Masterplans for Slyfield Area Regeneration Project (A24), Gosden Hill Farm (A25), Blackwell Farm (A26) and the former Wisley airfield (A35) and these will be subject to assessment by a Design Review Panel. The masterplanning process shall engage with the local community.

(16) In order to ensure future cohesive and vibrant neighbourhoods, they must demonstrate how the development responds to the immediate context as well as;

(a) Creates functional places

(b) Supports mixed use tenures

(c) Includes successful public spaces

(d) Is adaptive and resilient

(e) Has a distinctive character

(f) Is attractive

(g) Encourages ease of movement

(h) Creates a sustainable environment in relation to access to services and facilities

(17) Planning applications will be consistent with the Masterplans, which must be kept under review.

Use of Design Review Panel

(18) In addition to the strategic sites, the Council will expect other large schemes to be subject to assessment by a Design Review Panel.


(19) Proposals for new development within villages will have particular regard to;

(a) The distinctive settlement pattern of the village and the important relationship between the built development and the surrounding landscape

(b) Important views of the village from the surrounding landscape

(c) Views within the village of local landmarks

Ash & Tongham

(20) In order to avoid piecemeal development and to protect and enhance the existing character of Ash & Tongham and Ash Green, proposals within the area will have particular regard to;

(a) The relationship and connectivity with the existing urban area

(b) The relationship and connectivity between allocated sites in different ownerships

(c) The existing character of Ash & Tongham and Ash Green

(d) The future urban edge and its relationship with the surrounding countryside at the allocated site's boundaries



4.5.6 Local landmarks are prominent buildings within the village such as churches, village schools, public houses and war memorials. This is not an exhaustive list and does not exclude other buildings being referred to as local landmarks as it will differ between villages. Accessible places are those where the public would reasonably have access and which make provision for safe and convenient access by people with disabilities.

Reasoned justification

4.5.7 It is important that we set out how we will plan positively to achieve very high quality design for all developments. The NPPF requires the inclusion of a robust policy for design quality and states that permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions. This policy forms the strategic element with more detailed policy to follow as we prepare the Development Management Policies DPD.

4.5.8 We want to create places that we can be proud of, that are inclusive and promote community and healthy living. We are keen to encourage a mix of uses, particularly on larger sites, but also on smaller sites. This provides the potential to create places where services and facilities are readily accessible to residents, in particular through walking or cycling. We want to create places that allow access to facilities and support the use of sustainable modes of transport.

4.5.8a We will expect development to respond to local character and history, reflecting the identity of its context whilst allowing for innovative and forward thinking design. This should include taking account of the existing grain and street patterns and established building lines, local building vernacular and considering the effects upon views, topography, natural features, skylines, landscape setting and character, and the setting of designated and non-designated heritage assets. The relationship of the built environment to the landscape must be taken into account and the transition from urban to rural character will need to be reflected in the design of new development with the green approaches to settlements respected. Balanced with this is a requirement to develop with flair, imagination and style, reflecting our position as a regional centre and County town. These design considerations will be set out in more detail in the Development Management Policies DPD. This approach is not confined to our urban areas but will be applicable throughout the borough.

4.5.8b Historically, development has been focused in the urban areas of Guildford and Ash and Tongham. The Plan identifies a number of strategic sites for development and we will expect masterplans for these sites to be produced as part of the planning process.

4.5.8c Development in the villages has been limited due to the Green Belt designation which previously washed over all but one of the villages. Fifteen villages are now inset from the Green Belt meaning that development is no longer, by definition, considered inappropriate. In accordance with national policy, the important character of these inset villages should instead be protected using other development management policies.

4.5.8d Regard will be had to various Council documents in assessing the design of new development to ensure that it provides positive benefit in terms of landscape and townscape character, and enhances local distinctiveness. This includes the Residential Design Guide SPD and the Landscape Character Assessment (LCA). The LCA explores how change through built development and land management can be guided to protect, conserve and enhance the landscape character of the borough from the rural countryside to the townscapes in the urban centres.

4.5.8e Our Corporate Plan (2018-2023) identifies regenerating and improving Guildford town centre and other urban areas as one of three strategic priorities supporting its "Place Making" theme. Development within Guildford Town Centre will need to have regard to a very particular set of circumstances and this policy should be read in conjunction with Policy S3: Delivery of development and urban regeneration within Guildford Town Centre.

4.5.8f Innovation is a fundamental theme of the Council's Corporate Plan and the creation of smart places infrastructure across Guildford is a priority. In this regard, the Plan identifies the need for potential future technological and digital advances to be taken into account in planning, regeneration and development decisions.

4.5.8g The greater part of urban Guildford has good broadband and mobile phone signal connectivity. However, digital connectivity has been identified as a challenge by business, particularly in rural areas. Furthermore, because of the reliance on copper wire connections from street cabinets for many subscribers, download and upload speeds vary greatly.

4.5.8h The Council considers it essential that new development is planned and designed to enable appropriate digital infrastructure and to be at the forefront of advances in broadband technology. Doing so will help ensure that Guildford borough remains a highly attractive location for businesses and residents alike and development supports delivery of the Government's Industrial Strategy.

4.5.8i A flexible, but ambitious approach is regarded as appropriate in achieving development that supports innovation and is responsive to the rapid rate of change in relation to digital technology. The provision of FTTP is viewed a desired default technology, however it is recognised that this may not be practical in all cases. Similarly, the Council's aspiration is that connectivity speeds of at least 1Gbps offered by full (synchronous) FTTP could be achieved. FTTP and high quality connectivity will thus be encouraged in relation to new development, and particularly at development of major residential and employment sites.

4.5.8j The Council will be working closely with external strategic partners like Superfast Surrey, and Network Rail to optimise fibre network interventions, including enabling the use of "dark" (unlit) fibre and to promote further innovations relating to improving digital connectivity.

Key Evidence

  • Landscape Character Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 2007)
  • Building for Life 12: The sign of a good place to live (Design Council, Third Edition 2013)
  • By Design, Urban Design in the planning system: towards better practice (DETR, 2000)
  • Active by Design: Designing places for healthy lives - A short guide (Design Council, 2014)
  • Technical housing standards - nationally described space standards (DCLG, 2015)
  • Secured by Design, Design Guides (Various years, available online at:
  • Rural Economic Strategy 2017-2022 (Guildford Borough Council, 2017)
  • The Building Regulations 2010, Physical Infrastructure for high speed electronic communications networks, R1 In-building physical infrastructure (2016 edition)


Monitoring Indicators



Data source

Number of new developments achieving the "Built for Life" quality mark

Increase number of developments that have achieved the Built for Life quality mark

Planning permissions and appeals

Number of planning decisions, including appeals, granting permission which have been subject to assessment by a Design Review Panel


Planning permissions and appeals

Percentage of appeals allowed for applications originally refused for design reasons

Reduction in the percentage of appeals allowed that are considered to be poorly designed

Planning appeals