Proposed Submission Version of the Local Plan

Sevenoaks District Local Plan Proposed Submission Version Regulation 19 Consultation (including Appendices 1-4)

Appendix 1 - Guidance for Design Principles

Appendix 1 - Guidance for Design Principles

This appendix provides detailed guidance as to the interpretation of Chapter 7 “Ensuring New Development Respects Local Distinctiveness” and EN1 “Design Principles” of the Local Plan. It applies to all planning applications but should be interpreted at a level of detail appropriate to the scale of the scheme.

1. Character

Key Questions:

Does the scheme create a place with a locally inspired or otherwise distinctive character?

How has the relevant design guidance been used to determine the distinctive character of the scheme?

Policy requires that:

  • Design should be specific to the site responding to the characteristics of the site and its context.
  • Developments should demonstrate a thorough consideration of all the elements that make up local character, from large-scale landscape features, through the character of street and spaces to building shapes, styles, colours and materials. Proposals should clearly respond to all elements of this analysis.
  • Any use of standard building types will need a strong justification and an explanation of how they have been adapted, and/or their setting designed, to respond to the site and local character.
  • Innovative or contemporary design is encouraged but will nevertheless need to demonstrate how it is responding to the site and local character.
  • There should be an appropriate level of variety in the built form derived from an understanding of local character. This should not be achieved by simply mixing a variety of standard building types or materials.
  • Where the immediate context to a site is lacking distinct character, this should not be used as an excuse for nondescript or placeless development.
  • Developments which interpret local character in a crude or simplistic way should be avoided.
  • Proposals should demonstrate that local policy and guidance regarding character has been addressed including:
    • Conservation area appraisals and management plans,
    • AONB policies, guides and management plans,
    • Neighbourhood plans
    • Village design statements
    • Landscape characterisation studies.


2. Working with the Site and its Context

Key Questions:

Does the scheme integrate into its surroundings by reinforcing existing connections and creating new ones, while also respecting existing buildings and land uses around the development site?

Does the scheme take advantage of existing topography, landscape features (including water courses), trees and plants, wildlife habitats, existing buildings, site orientation and microclimate?

Policy requires that:

  • Views into, from or through the site should be carefully considered early in the design process and the design responds to them.
  • The quality of existing landscape features such as existing trees, hedgerows, streams, buildings and other structures should be carefully assessed in terms of their contribution to biodiversity, drainage, amenity and character. Useful and attractive features should be re-used and designed into the development.
  • The scheme should respond to site topography in terms of layout or streets, paths and public spaces, building orientation and heights.
  • While developments are encouraged to have a distinct identity, they should be designed to be part of the existing settlement rather than a place in themselves in terms of character, layout and access to local facilities.
  • Where the site is at the edge of a settlement consideration should be given to its function as a ‘gateway’ to that place. This should not be interpreted as a requirement for crude ‘gateway’ features.
  • Vehicle access and connectivity should be designed so as to create a connected network of streets, maximise choice and avoid convoluted journeys. Major developments with only one vehicle access should be avoided.
  • Where it is believed that a vehicle connection through a development will create an un undesirable short cut, street design should be used to discourage its use, rather than the connection being blocked.
  • The design of developments should encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport.
  • Opportunities for walking and cycling access and connections in addition to those for vehicles should be taken. There should be careful consideration of how pedestrian and cyclists will access local facilities, such as educational, medical, retail and leisure facilities and public transport.
  • Walking and cycling routes should be designed to be direct, easy to use and safe. Dedicated pedestrian and cycle routes at the rear of back gardens should be avoided.
  • Junctions should be pedestrian and cycle friendly. Large roundabouts should be avoided.
  • Existing public rights of way should be respected and enhanced. Public rights of way outside the development should be connected to. Consideration should be given to creating dedicated pedestrian and cycle routes through the development as well as ensuring streets are safe and easy to use for pedestrians and cyclists.


3. Natural Landscaping, Blue Green Infrastructure, Biodiversity and Flooding

Key Questions:

Does the scheme retain existing habitats and incorporate new ones?

How has surface water runoff been considered from source to site exit in the scheme?

Have areas at risk of flooding been avoided before mitigation measures have been considered?

Policy requires that:

  • Sustainable drainage should be incorporated in all developments, this includes higher density town centre housing, mixed-use and commercial schemes as well as suburban and rural schemes. The following principles should be applied:
    • Sustainable drainage should be designed from the point where rainwater falls to the point where it leaves the site with the aim of preventing or impeding its progress off the site.
    • Sustainable drainage should be designed to provide multiple benefits including biodiversity, irrigation, play and amenity.
    • Nature based systems should always be favoured before engineered ones are considered. This means the following hierarchy should be observed
      1. Absorption directly into the ground, via soakaways, raingardens, green roofs or permeable paving
      2. Where run-off water needs to be conveyed this should be through natural surface-based systems such as swales, rills and rain gardens, discharging into a surface waterbody.
      3. Water should be conveyed in pipes and held in underground cells or tanks only when the above options are not possible.
      4. Discharge to a surface water sewer, highway drain or other drainage system, where absorption and evaporation within the site is not possible.
      5. Discharge to a combined sewer where there are absolutely no other options, and surface water is attenuated onsite to ensure that there is a minimum 50% betterment on pre-development discharge levels to the combined sewer of both surface and foul water. Where there is no present discharge to the combined sewer it must be demonstrated that the proposal will not result in sewer flooding to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority.
  • Development should not extend into areas at risk of flooding. Where an existing built-up area is at risk of flooding development needs to be carefully considered and appropriate mitigation measures included. Such as:
  1. SuDS
  2. Raising ground or floor levels
  3. Flood avoidance measures such as bunds, boundary walls, fencing etc.
  4. Water resistant floors and walls
  5. Electricity installed at higher levels
  6. Higher placement of/periscopic air vents
  • Landscape design should be considered early in the design process and be specific to the site and the scheme. A design approach that simply specifies planting as a detail later on the process should be avoided.
  • Developments should aim for no loss of existing habitats and achieve a net gain in biodiversity. Wildlife corridors should be incorporated either through connecting to existing green infrastructure both in and around the site or through new provision.
  •  There should be a clear and sustainable management plan in place for the open spaces, blue green infrastructure and SuDS. This should be discussed early in the design process to provide reassurance that plans for open spaces and green infrastructure are viable and sustainable.


4. Well Defined Streets and Spaces including Car Parking

Key Questions:

Are buildings designed and positioned and supported by planting to define and enhance streets and spaces and are buildings designed to turn corners well?

Is the car parking well integrated so that it does not dominate the street?

Policy requires that:

  • In larger developments a range of parking solutions should be employed appropriate to the context and type of development. Rear parking courtyards should be avoided and where used should be small in size and overlooked.
  • Garages should be positioned so they do not dominate the street scene.
  • Parking areas should be designed as to allow safe access to homes and so as not to dominate the street scene. Areas of parking in streets, squares and courtyards should be broken up with areas of planting.
  • There should be sufficient car parking for residents and visitors
  • There should be a range of road and footpath materials use as appropriate to the scheme and avoiding an overreliance on tarmac or a single material.
  • An appropriate hierarchy of streets should be established with sufficient, but not excessive, variation in street designs, widths and materials. Surfacing materials should help users understand what sort of street they are using
  • Fronts of buildings including blocks of apartments should have front doors, facing the street
  • Weak or blank corners should be avoided, and corner-turning buildings used.
  • Buildings should be used to create enclosed streets and spaces
  • Developments should create or reinforce well-enclosed, easily navigable streets


5. Streets and Access for All including. Active Design and Travel

Key Question

Are streets designed in a way that encourage low vehicle speeds, allow them to function as social spaces and are easy to navigate?

Is the development easy to navigate and does it provide easy access for all?

Policy requires that:

  • Developments should be easy to navigate and contribute to the ease of navigation of the town or village as a whole. This should be achieved by simple well-connected street layouts. There should adequate and appropriate signage that is well designed and reflects local character.
  • Larger developments are expected to be accompanied by a Travel Plan
  • All but the quietest streets should have separate footways. Sport England Active Design principles should be incorporated.
  • Pedestrian routes should be overlooked, welcoming, obvious, direct and appropriate for wheelchairs, buggies and those with limited mobility. Streets and pedestrian areas should be designed to allow access for all and to prevent trips and falls.
  • Residential streets should be designed in a way that they can be used as social spaces, such as places for children to play safely.
  • Streets should be designed to be pedestrian-friendly and to encourage cars to drive slower and more carefully, without resorting to aggressive traffic calming measures.


6. Public and Private Spaces

Key Question

Are public and private spaces clearly defined and designed to have appropriate access and be able to be well managed and safe to use?

Policy requires that:

  • Boundary features should be carefully designed. An overreliance on fencing should be avoided.
  • Public and private spaces should be clearly defined by boundary features. Small areas of public space which are unlikely to be used and will be hard to maintain should be avoided. If possible, these should be conveyed to neighbouring properties.
  • Residential developments should include sufficient private or shared amenity space.
  • Public spaces should be well overlooked and feel safe. They should be adequately lit if appropriate.
  • Developments should include an appropriate area and range of public spaces located to meet the needs of users. In residential areas these should include play facilities.


7 . External Storage and Utilities including Broadband, Cycle Storage, Green Technologies

Key Questions:

Is there adequate external storage space (including convenient refuse and cycle storage)

Is there appropriate broadband and electric car-charging infrastructure?

Policy requires that:

  • Each household and business should be provided with convenient, dedicated bin and recycling storage where bins and crates can be stored out of sight. The route between these storage areas and bin collection points should be straightforward and short.
  • Garages should be large enough to fit a modern family sized car and allow the driver to get out of the car easily
  • There should be sufficient external secure storage for outside items such as garden equipment and cycles
  • Green technologies are encouraged within all schemes, such as Solar Panels, electric vehicle charging points, biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps. There should be appropriate infrastructure and space for future retrofitting of green technologies.