Draft Thanet Local Plan - 2031 - Pre-Submission Publication, Regulation 19

General Design Principles

13.11 The historic environment can add value to new development by creating a sense of place and distinctiveness. New developments need to be designed in a way that respects and complements their surroundings, and enhance areas that are less attractive. There are many areas in Thanet which are considered to possess certain valuable qualities such as their open form of development, the separation between buildings and the positive contribution made by landscaping. The design, scale and grouping of existing buildings, the spaces between them, the texture, type and colour of materials, enclosure, land contours and views all contribute to the character and identity of a place. An attractive well-designed environment can foster economic regeneration. Heritage England provides advice and guidance on Heritage and Sustainable Growth. Materials should normally be of a local type and harmonise with those of adjoining development (where these present a pleasing appearance). Architectural style should respect that of other development in the locality. Innovation in decoration can, if sensitively considered, enhance the identity and character of a building and place. New innovative modern design will be acceptable where it reflects local context and distinctiveness, is fit for purpose and exhibits durability

13.12 Buildings and the spaces around them should be thought about holistically, with the landscape and public realm, including open space provision, being as important as the building itself. Successful landscape design will integrate development into its surroundings and enhance the function, character and amenity value of spaces and boundaries. Taking account of existing landscape features, such as trees, is crucial in creating high quality and responsive schemes. Existing trees can provide a sense of maturity to new developments and play an important role in softening and integrating development into the district. Landscape design extends beyond the curtilage of new buildings to include streets, parks and other open spaces and should help to support an attractive and high quality public realm. This policy does not seek to control the design of individual gardens unless these are a key part of a heritage asset.

13.13 Well-designed open spaces and parks not only help to create a high quality environment but they help to encourage a more active lifestyle thereby improving the health of the local community. The Open Space Strategy 2017 highlights that one of the key issues facing the district is relating to health with 68.4% of residents being classed as having weight issues which are "excessive" and "obese". In order to meet the objective of promoting the physical and mental well-being of the community as set out Strategic Priority 4, the Council will expect developers to have regard to the Active Design Guidance produced by Sport England. This sets out 10 principles of active design which have been identified by drawing from urban design practice and practical examples to promote environments that offer individuals and communities the greatest potential to lead active and healthy lifestyles. The 10 principles are: activity for all; walkable communities; connected walking and cycling routes; co-location of community facilities; network of multifunctional open space; high quality of street and spaces; appropriate infrastructure; active buildings; management maintenance monitoring and evaluation; and activity promotion and local champions.

13.14 Landscape proposals should result in high quality amenity spaces, which receive adequate sunlight (in accordance with best practice guidance) and which work with the buildings to help define thresholds and boundaries and to provide opportunities for private usable amenity space through gardens, roof terraces and balconies.

13.15 Maintenance and management plans must be provided with any proposals and considered early in the design process. Schemes which include species that support local distinctiveness enhance biodiversity and cope with climatic changes will be supported.

13.16 The function of a building is a major determinant of its built form. However, a principal aim in designing new development should be to respect and complement the merits of existing built and natural features including landscape, while still expressing and accommodating the function of the building through design.

13.17 Some buildings (e.g. public buildings) need to be of larger scale than others. However, the scale and proportion of existing development should generally be respected. It may be possible to break down the bulk of a large building (e.g. by insertion of horizontal design features) to achieve a satisfactory appearance in relation to adjoining plot widths and proportions and to break bland expanses down to a scale sympathetic to that of existing buildings.

13.18 Density is a measure of the number of dwellings which can be accommodated on a site or in an area and can affect the appearance and characteristics of development in the following ways:

  • The space between buildings
  • Amenity and private access
  • Parking
  • Provision/retention of trees and shrubs
  • Levels of Surface water run off

13.19 Some parts of Thanet are already densely developed. Former holiday areas such as Cliftonville have seen significant numbers of conversions of large buildings (often previously used as hotels) into flatted accommodation which has, in some cases, had a detrimental impact due to small, poor quality developments, absent landlords, and a transient population. To help address this the Council will implement the optional internal space standards as set out in policy QD04. Other areas of the district benefit from lower density developments. The density of residential developments is not prescribed in this Plan, as, in all instances, the compatibility with the character of the area and the mix of housing to meet local needs or demand will influence design and layout.

13.20 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that local planning authorities should consider policies to resist inappropriate development of residential gardens where development would cause harm to the local area.

13.21 In Thanet, applications have been refused for development on garden land due to the impact the proposal would have on the character and appearance of the area. Some parts of the district enjoy a high quality environment, with spacious surroundings, and development within a garden could have a detrimental effect. Residential gardens also form part of Thanet's Green Infrastructure providing biodiversity and wildlife habitats. However, there could also be instances where a development within a garden could be in keeping with the pattern of development, forms part of a comprehensive development, enhances the streetscene, or is situated where the property would be a frontage development.

The following policy seeks to ensure all new development respects and enhances local character.

Policy QD02 - General Design Principles

The primary planning aim in all new development is to promote or reinforce the local character of the area and provide high quality and inclusive design and be sustainable in all other respects. Development must:

1. Relate to the surrounding development, form and layout and strengthen links to the adjacent areas.

2. Be well designed, respect and enhance the character of the area paying particular attention to context and identity of its location, scale, massing, rhythm, density, layout and use of materials appropriate to the locality. The development itself must be compatible with neighbouring buildings and spaces and be inclusive in its design for all users.

3. Incorporate a high degree of permeability for pedestrians and cyclists, provide safe and satisfactory access for pedestrians, public transport and other vehicles, ensuring provision for disabled access.

4. Improve people's quality of life by creating safe and accessible environments, and promoting public safety and security by designing out crime.

 External spaces, landscape, public realm, and boundary treatments must be designed as an integral part of new development proposals and coordinated with adjacent sites and phases. Development will be supported where it is demonstrated that:

5. 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 are should be retained, enhanced and protected where appropriate.

6. An integrated approach is taken to surface water management as part of the overall design.

7. A coordinated approach is taken to the design and siting of street furniture, boundary treatments, lighting, signage and public art to meet the needs of all users.

8. Trees and other planting is incorporated appropriate to both the scale of buildings and the space available, to provide opportunities for increasing biodiversity interest and improving connectivity between nature conservation sites where appropriate

Residential development on garden land will be permitted if it will make a positive visual contribution to the area, the intrinsic value of the site as an open space is not considered worthy of retention, and will not conflict with any other requirements of other design policies.




Living conditions

13.22 The increasing dominance of private housing and policies to maximise use of land have caused concern about homes having levels of "liveable" space.Where homes are of a substandard size people may be forced into buying them because of lack of alternatives and as a result do not stay in them long before they find they have to move on. This can be disruptive especially for families with young children and can affect education if children are having to move schools frequently, also inhibits community cohesion and "putting down roots". Application of the national spaces standards can help to address this.

13.23 There are opportunities to facilitate meetings between members of the community who might not otherwise come into contact with each other, including through mixed-use developments, strong neighbourhood centres and active street frontages which bring together those who work, live and play in the vicinity. Safe and accessible developments with clear and legible pedestrian routes and high quality open space will also help achieve this by encouraging the active and continual use of public areas.

13.24 Designing out crime and designing in community safety should be central to the planning and delivery of new development. Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 places a duty on councils to do all they reasonably can to reduce crime and disorder locally and improve people's quality of life as a result. New developments will need to demonstrate that their design has sought to introduce measures to reduce crime and address the needs of public safety. Design can help achieve a safer environment including in the following ways:

  • Well defined routes, spaces and entrances
  • Ensuring different uses do not conflict
  • Ensuring publicly accessible spaces are over-looked
  • Places that promote a sense of ownership
  • Physical protection (i.e. security features)
  • Places where human activity creates a sense of safety
  • Future management and maintenance

Policy QD03 - Living Conditions

All new development should:

1. Be compatible with neighbouring buildings and spaces and not lead to the unacceptable living conditions through overlooking, noise or vibration, light pollution, overshadowing, loss of natural light or sense of enclosure.

2. Be of appropriate size and layout with sufficient usable space to facilitate comfortable living conditions and meet the standards set out in QD04.

3. Residential development should include the provision of private or shared external amenity space/play space.

4. Provide for clothes drying facilities and waste disposal or bin storage, with a collection point for storage containers no further than 15 metres from where the collection vehicle will pass.