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Guildford Borough Council

Proposed Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites 2017

Proposed Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites 2017 - Part 1: Policies

4.5 Design Policies

Policy D1: Place shaping

Policy D1: Making better placesPlace Shaping


4.5.1 The design of the built environment has a direct effect upon how places are used. The relationship between buildings, and spaces and landscape as well as detailed design and materials are all factors in this. Good design will influence how people move around our urban areassettlements, 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 attaches great importance to the design of the built environment and states that good design should contribute positively to making places better for people. 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 contribute to pedestrian friendly environments.

4.5.3 We need to accommodate growth over the plan period including the provision of adequate residential and economic development 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.

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: Making better places Place Shaping 

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

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

(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. 

All developments will:

  • be expected to have regard to and perform positively against Building for Life 12 criteria, and
  • be laid out to make the best use of the natural features such as trees and hedges and levels, and enhance views into and out of the site
  • respond meaningfully and sensitively to the site, its characteristics and constraints, and the layout, grain, massing and height of surrounding buildings
  • promote and reinforce local distinctiveness to create a sense of place, with innovative architecture encouraged and supported in the appropriate context
  • be expected to use art and materials of a nature appropriate to their setting.  


Reasoned Justification 

4.5.6      It is important at this strategic stage in the local planning process that we set out how we will plan positively to achieve very high quality and inclusive design for all developments. National planning policy requires the inclusion of a robust policy for design quality, ultimately the NPPF gives local planning authorities the power to refuse 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 form the development control policies.

4.5.7      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 are keen to see places that allow access to facilities and support the use of sustainable modes of transport.

4.5.8      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 Local Plan Development Management Policies Document. This approach is not confined to our urban areas but will be appropriate throughout the borough.

4.5.8a    Access to an efficient broadband connection is crucial for residents to efficiently go about day-to-day activities. It also stimulates economic growth and enables digital inclusion of vulnerable communities along with improving access to education facilities and improving the skills base. It further supports efforts to reduce carbon emissions by minimising the need to travel.

Key Evidence

  • NPPF
  • 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, March 2014)
  • Building for Life 12: The sign of a good place to live (Design Council, Third Edition January 2013)
  • Guildford Borough Council Residential Design Guide SPG (Guildford Borough Council,July 2004)
  • Landscape Character Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 2007)


Monitoring Indicators



Data source

Number of appeals allowed for applications originally refused for design reasons


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

Planning applications and appeals.

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 applications and appeals