6 Design

Policy DES 1

Respecting Context

Development will be required to respond to its physical context, respect the positive character of the local area in which it is situated, and contribute towards local identity and distinctiveness.

In assessing the extent to which any development complies with this policy, regard will be had to the following factors:

  1. the impact on, and relationship to, the existing landscape and any notable landscape or environmental feature or species;
  2. the character, scale and pattern of streets and building plots, including plot size;
  3. the relationship to existing buildings and other features that contribute to townscape quality;
  4. the impact on, and quality of, views and vistas;
  5. the scale of the proposed development in relationship to its surroundings;
  6. the potential impact of the proposed development on the redevelopment of an adjacent site;
  7. the desirability of protecting an existing building line, or allowing discontinuities that would improve or enrich the existing townscape and public space;
  8. the street’s vertical and horizontal rhythms;
  9. the quality and durability of proposed materials and their appropriateness to both the location and the type of development; and
  10. the functional compatibility with adjoining land uses.

Where there is no discernable or well-developed local character or distinctiveness, developments will be required to adopt high design standards that support the creation of a distinctive place, ensuring that this is appropriate to the nature, setting, culture and community of the local area.

Reasoned justification

6.3 Local identity and distinctiveness are important elements of sustainable places and communities, helping to engender pride in, and commitment to, an area. A number of things may contribute to local distinctiveness, such as the pattern of streets and spaces, building types and form, building traditions, materials, landscape and ecology. New development should have its own identity, but this should be compatible with, and enhance, the existing sense of place where this is a positive feature of the locality. Development should help to secure interesting, liveable, and viable environments, and where possible and appropriate attempt to create subtle events in the streetscape that help to make a place memorable and unique.

6.4 All developments should have regard to their context, to ensure that they are a positive addition to an area. This will be particularly important for infill developments, where the visual relationship with adjacent buildings is likely to be much closer. In some circumstances, it may be inappropriate to permit any development on all or part of a site, because it is an important open space that contributes to the landscape/townscape character or amenity of the area.

6.5 The importance of context does not mean that all new development must slavishly follow the design of existing buildings. Rather, the emphasis should be on ensuring that developments fit into an area, and do not undermine the attractiveness and legibility of the townscape because their poor design makes them visually obtrusive. For example, the use of different architectural styles on adjoining sites is not precluded, whereas pastiche design is unlikely to be appropriate. The use of inventive and innovative design is encouraged, provided the development respects its context.

6.6 Views of local landmarks, important groups of buildings, key open spaces, and other important built and natural features should be protected, enhanced and/or revealed. The scale of development should not unduly obscure or spoil the silhouette, backdrop or setting of existing buildings. In some circumstances, a building may need to stand out visually, in order to identify an important location or terminate a view.

6.7 The importance of respecting context is also raised by other policies of this UDP, particularly those relating to heritage and nature conservation.

Policy DES 2

Circulation and Movement

The design and layout of new development will be required to:
  1. ensure that the development is fully accessible to all people, including the disabled and others with limited or impaired mobility;
  2. maximise the movement of pedestrians and cyclists to, through and around the site, through the provision of safe and direct routes;
  3. enable pedestrians to orientate themselves, and navigate their way through an area by providing appropriate views, vistas and visual links;
  4. enable safe, direct and convenient access to public transport facilities, and other local amenities such as retail and community facilities, including where appropriate the incorporation of a bus route or turning facility within the site; and
  5. minimise potential conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and other road users, for example by incorporating speed reduction measures and through the careful design of car parking areas.

Reasoned justification

6.8 Site layout has an important role to play in supporting sustainable development and securing successful places, particularly in terms of the way in which it can encourage the use of more sustainable forms of transport, such as walking. Developments should be designed to ensure that an area is easy to move through and understand. Developments should respond to both existing and potential natural pedestrian desire lines, to encourage pedestrian activity. It is also important that all pedestrian and cycling routes are designed to be direct, safe, attractive, accessible, and free from barriers. Improvements in pedestrian links to surrounding amenities and facilities may be secured through the use of planning obligations. Regard should also be had to Policy A2 'Cyclists, Pedestrians and the Disabled'.

6.9 Whilst all opportunities should be taken to enhance pedestrian accessibility, there may be exceptional circumstances where the loss of pedestrian routes may be justified by a compensating improvement in the overall design of the development, and subject to the maintenance of accessibility under the provisions of Policy A2 'Cyclists, Pedestrians and the Disabled'.

6.10 The layout of sites can also have an important influence on the potentially negative impacts of car use, for example by designing buildings and street spaces so as to control vehicle movement and speed, and minimising the visual obtrusiveness of car parking, which can greatly detract from the appearance of an area.

6.11 All aspects of the built environment should be accessible to everyone, no matter what the level of their mobility, and, wherever possible, people should be enabled to live independent lives, and be integrated into the wider community. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 requires service providers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the physical features of their premises by 2004 to allow access for the disabled, and 'Part M of the Building Regulations' provides guidelines for new buildings. The duty of applicants under this legislation will be facilitated where possible, whilst having regard to the other policies of the plan, and in sensitive locations more imaginative design solutions may be required. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for the planning system to go beyond these provisions, and insist on additional access requirements. Key issues will include the setting out of public areas, landscaping and the siting of street furniture, locating disabled car parking spaces within easy access of building entrances, providing dropped kerbs and ramps, and providing signage.

Policy DES 3

Design of Public Space

Where development includes the provision of, or works to, public space, that public space must be designed to:

  1. have a clear role and purpose, responding to established or proposed local economic, social, cultural and environmental needs;
  2. reflect and enhance the character and identity of the area;
  3. form an integral part of, and provide an appropriate setting for, surrounding developments;
  4. be attractive, safe, uncluttered and appropriately lit;
  5. be of an appropriate scale;
  6. connect to established pedestrian routes and other public spaces; and
  7. minimise, and make provision for, maintenance requirements.

Reasoned justification

6.12 This policy applies to any development involving works to, or the provision of, public space. Any public area can constitute public space, including streets, squares, parks, play areas, and informal open space.

6.13 Public space plays a vital role in the success of an area, for example in terms of establishing an identity and supporting community interaction. Poor quality public space can undermine the coherence, sustainability and safety of communities, and its design is therefore very important. The design of public spaces should be seen as an integral part of the design process, rather than as an add-on or as a use for “left over” space. Public art can make a significant contribution to the quality of public space and it has an important role in creating a sense of place and identity. It is not just about sculpture, but can also be incorporated into building and landscape design, and can include artistically designed street furniture, lighting and signage. Its provision will be sought in appropriate locations, particularly along the Irwell Sculpture Trail, in the Chapel Street area, in town centres, environmental improvement corridors, conservation areas and key public spaces. Where appropriate, opportunities for nature conservation should be maximised.

Policy DES 4

Relationship of Development to Public Space

Development adjoining public space shall be designed to have a strong and positive relationship with that space. In particular:
  1. buildings should clearly define the spaces around them, including streets, squares and parks, for example through the continuity of street frontages and building lines;
  2. buildings should provide natural surveillance, visual interest and activity for public spaces and communal areas, particularly at ground floor level;
  3. development should clearly distinguish between public, private and communal spaces, and, where possible, avoid the provision of private space directly adjoining public space; and
  4. the visual impact of car parking should be minimised, by ensuring that it is integrated into the design of the development so as not to be visually dominant.

Reasoned justification

6.14 Public space is considered to include all elements of the public realm, such as streets, squares, parks, and waterside walkways. A very important influence on the quality of public spaces is the buildings that surround them, and the sense of enclosure that they provide to the space, and therefore all built development must be carefully designed with relationship to adjoining public spaces.

6.15 The provision of natural surveillance, visual interest and activity for public spaces may be achieved in a number of ways, for example through the incorporation of active ground floor uses that generate pedestrian movement where this is appropriate to the location; by buildings having frequent entrances, through the location of windows and other features; and by buildings not presenting their backs or blank walls to public spaces.

Policy DES 5

Tall Buildings

Tall buildings will be permitted where:
  1. the scale of the development is appropriate to its context and location;
  2. the location is highly accessible by public transport, walking and cycling;
  3. the building would positively relate to and interact with the adjacent public realm, particularly in terms of recognising its scale and not discouraging the use of public spaces;
  4. the building would be of the highest quality design and construction;
  5. the building would make a positive addition to the skyline;
  6. the building would not detract from important views;
  7. there would be no unacceptable overshadowing or overlooking that would be detrimental to the amenity of neighbouring occupiers;
  8. there would be no unacceptable impact on the setting of a listed building, or the character or appearance of a conservation area;
  9. there would be no unacceptable impact on microclimate, for example in terms of wind speed or direction;
  10. there would be no unacceptable impact on telecommunications activity;
  11. there would be no unacceptable impact on aviation safety; and
  12. the development would be consistent with other policies and proposals of the UDP.

Reasoned justification

6.16 This policy applies to all buildings and other structures that are significantly higher than surrounding buildings, or which could have a significant impact on their surroundings by virtue of their height.

6.17 Tall buildings can be a positive addition to a skyline, act as landmarks that help people to orientate themselves, signify locations of civic, commercial or visual importance, identify focal points of urban activity, and enable a more efficient use of land, reducing pressure on previously undeveloped land. However, their impact on the surrounding area is invariably wider and much more significant than with other buildings. Therefore, they will only be permitted when they have been very carefully designed and sited, so as to minimise all potentially negative impacts. The roofline, silhouette, and materials are likely to be particularly important elements of the design.

6.18 All applications for tall buildings will be expected to include a comprehensive design statement, with scale representations of the design in context, e.g. a photographic montage. Locations where tall buildings are more likely to be appropriate include the mixed-use areas identified in Policy MX1 'Development in Mixed-use Areas' and the city’s town centres.

6.19 The proximity of the city to Manchester Airport means that the potential impact of very tall buildings on the operational integrity and safety of that airport will be an important consideration. The city council is required to consult Manchester Airport on any proposed developments exceeding 90m in height within the southern half of the city (see DEV 7 "Protection of Aviation Safety at Manchester Airport").

Policy DES 6

Waterside Development

All new development adjacent to the River Irwell, the Manchester Ship Canal, Salford Quays, the Bridgewater Canal, and the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal will be required to facilitate pedestrian access to, along and, where appropriate, across the waterway by the provision of:
  1. a safe, attractive and overlooked waterside walkway, accessible to all and at all times of the day, where this is compatible with the commercial role of the waterway;
  2. pedestrian links between the waterside walkway and other key pedestrian routes; and
  3. where appropriate, ground floor uses that generate pedestrian activity, and larger waterside spaces to act as focal points for public activity.
Where the commercial role of the waterway makes it inappropriate to provide a waterside walkway, an alternative route shall, where possible, be provided. Such a route should be well designed and effective; accessible and safe for users and, so far as practicable, near to the waterside; and linked to any existing waterside walkways and other key pedestrian routes.

Development will also be required to:

  1. where possible, protect, improve or provide wildlife habitats;
  2. where possible, conserve and complement any historic features;
  3. maintain, and preferably enhance, waterside safety; and
  4. not affect the maintenance or integrity of the waterway or flood defences.
All built development along the aforementioned waterways will be required to:
  1. face onto the water, and incorporate entrances onto the waterfront, where appropriate;
  2. be of the highest standard of design, creating a positive addition to the waterside environment and providing an attractive elevation to it;
  3. be of a scale sufficient to frame the edge of the waterside; and
  4. enhance views from, of, across and along the waterway, and provide visual links to the waterside from surrounding areas.

Reasoned justification

6.20 Salford’s waterways are an integral part of the city’s character, identity, and environmental quality, and act as a magnet for investment. A number of the city’s strategic recreation routes are along waterways. In the past, some developments have turned their back on the waterways, and public access to the waterside has been limited. However, new development, particularly at Salford Quays, and the completion of the River Irwell walkway, has begun to reverse this trend. It is important that all future development serves to enhance the environmental quality and public access to the waterside, but it should also be consistent both with other design policies, for example by ensuring that there are attractive elevations to public spaces away from the water, and with Policy EN9 'Wildlife Corridors' on flood risk. The policy will be applied to the whole length of the waterways set out above, including those parts of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal that require complete restoration.

6.21 In implementing this policy, regard will be had to the type of development proposed and the individual site characteristics. This may mean that not all of the policy criteria can be satisfied in every case, thereby requiring a balance to be drawn. For example, the potential for water-based freight-handling facilities on sites fronting the Manchester Ship Canal means it may not be practicable to meet all of the design requirements in instances where commercial development relating to the function of the canal is proposed. Similarly, it might mean that pedestrian access along the waterside may not always be appropriate where that would conflict with operational development, or with the historic character of the waterway.

6.22 In these circumstances, the provision of an alternative route linking in to existing walkways will be required. It may also be permissible in special circumstances for development not to provide a walkway adjacent to the waterway, in order to support a high quality design or nature conservation objectives, where there is a walkway on the opposite side of the waterway and bridges adjoining the site that provide direct access to it. Where there is an existing walkway, any new development adjacent to it will be expected to bring it up to a suitable standard. Where appropriate, walkways should also provide for cyclists.

Policy DES 7

Amenity of Users and Neighbours

All new development, and alterations and extensions to existing buildings, will be required to provide potential users with a satisfactory level of amenity, in terms of space, sunlight, daylight, privacy, aspect, and layout. Development will not be permitted where it would have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of the occupiers or users of other developments.

Reasoned justification

6.23 The sustainability of an area is partially dependent on ensuring that the amenity of the occupiers of both new and existing developments meets certain minimum levels. Amenity can include many factors, such as privacy and the impacts of traffic generation. The desire to increase densities and secure the reuse of vacant land should not be allowed to compromise this objective, and innovative design solutions can often be used to ensure that amenity is protected. Where appropriate, permitted development rights may be removed in order to ensure that development that could adversely affect amenity is brought under the planning control of the local planning authority. Further advice on how this policy applies to householder development will be provided in the 'House Extensions' supplementary planning document. Regard should also be had to Policy EN17 'Pollution Control' on pollution control, which addresses other issues that may affect amenity, such as noise, light and dust.

Policy DES 8

Alterations and Extensions

Planning permission will only be granted for alterations or extensions to existing buildings that respect the general scale, character, rhythm, proportions, details and materials of the original structure and complement the general character of the surrounding area.

The design of alterations and extensions must ensure that the resultant building appears as an attractive and coherent whole. Any modifications resulting in an unacceptable impact on the appearance of the building, or failing to retain the building’s key features, will not be permitted.

Reasoned justification

6.24 Alterations and extensions to existing buildings constitute a significant proportion of development activity, and it is important to ensure that this activity makes a positive contribution to design quality within the city. Inappropriate development can detract from the appearance of existing buildings and the surrounding area, damaging visual amenity. The policy does not prevent innovative design and the use of contrasting materials, provided that this results in an attractive and coherent building. Further advice will be provided in the 'House Extensions' supplementary planning document.

Policy DES 9

Landscaping

Developments will be required to incorporate appropriate hard and soft landscaping provision, where appropriate.

Where landscaping is required as part of a development, it must:

  1. be of a high quality in terms of design and materials;
  2. reflect and enhance the character of the area and the design of development;
  3. be sited and designed so as not to detract from the safety and security of the area, create an obstruction to pedestrians, or detract from attractive built features;
  4. be designed to complement or form an integral part of the development;
  5. be easily maintained, and have provision made for its maintenance;
  6. respect adjacent land uses, buildings and other structures; and
  7. wherever possible make provision for the creation of new wildlife habitats.

Reasoned justification

6.25 Landscaping should form an integral part of many developments, although it is recognised that some developments, such as most house extensions, are unlikely to be required to provide landscaping. Where it is required, landscaping should not be seen as an afterthought but rather as an important part of the design process. In many cases, particularly on prominent sites, those incorporating significant areas of public space, and for potentially bad neighbour developments, the applicant will be required to provide details of the landscaping principles as part of the application.

6.26 Both hard and soft landscaping play a central part in the quality of an area, providing the immediate surroundings for the users of a development, and for those passing by. A high quality of design, and the use of good quality materials and specimens, is therefore often necessary. The use of natural hard landscaping materials is particularly encouraged, and will be a requirement in the most prominent locations. However, care needs to be taken to ensure that landscaping does not compromise safety in any way, nor has an unacceptable impact on adjacent land and structures (such as tree roots adversely affecting sewers), and that it can be properly maintained.

6.27 The provision of green features in the design of development is particularly encouraged as this can help soften and enhance an area’s appearance, assist in the permeability of land for storm drainage and contribute to biodiversity.  For example, new tree planting may be required as part of development where there is a deficiency in the area, potentially contributing to the Red Rose Forest initiative.  Wildlife, both plant and animal, may be encouraged not only by such means as the deliberate creation of habitat and in the choice of species in landscaping schemes, but also by other indirect methods.  The design and distribution of open space and gardens in a housing layout; the creation of corridors for wildlife along footpaths and transport routes; and the choice of surfacing, enclosure and land drainage systems can all increase the contribution which a development could make to biodiversity and to meeting the targets of the Greater Manchester Biodiversity Action Plan.  Developers should demonstrate that regard has been had in the design of development to the principles of enhancing biodiversity by such means.

Policy DES 10

Design and Crime

Development will not be permitted unless it is designed to discourage crime, anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime, and support personal and property security.

In particular, development should:

  1. clearly delineate public, communal, semi-private and private spaces, avoiding ill-defined or left over spaces;
  2. allow natural surveillance, particularly of surrounding public spaces, means of access, and parking areas;
  3. avoid places of concealment and inadequately lit areas; and
  4. encourage activity within public areas.

Crime prevention measures should not be at the expense of the overall design quality, and proposals will not be permitted where they would have a hostile appearance or engender a fortress-type atmosphere.

Reasoned justification

6.28 Crime and the fear of crime have a major impact on the quality of life, and their minimisation will be an essential part in attracting people to live in the conurbation and in creating sustainable communities. It is therefore vital that planning and design do all that they can to minimise opportunities for crime, whilst ensuring that other planning objectives are not compromised. A supplementary planning document (SPD) on Design and Crime is currently being produced to provide detailed guidance to complement this policy. The Crime and Disorder Act requires the city council to consider the crime and disorder implications when determining all planning applications.

6.29 The incorporation of crime reduction measures and designs that have a hostile appearance can actually contribute to crime, for example by giving the impression that an area is not safe or reducing casual surveillance, discouraging further investment. Such proposals will therefore be resisted. Shutters and other security features should be designed as an integral part of development, with the former preferably being located inside rather than outside windows.

6.30 Surveillance may be provided in a number of ways, for example, through the avoidance of blank frontages; the positioning of doors and windows so as to overlook public spaces; a mix of uses that encourage activity throughout the day; the minimisation of visual obstacles; and the use of CCTV. Rear gardens should normally be avoided adjacent to public spaces, because they provide no casual surveillance. Places of concealment need to be avoided, for example through the careful siting and design of buildings and landscaping, and use of lighting.