Saved Local Plan Policies

As of 27 September 2007, a number of policies from North Hertfordshire District Local Plan No. 2 with Alterations (April 1996) cease to have effect, under the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. This document presents only those parts of the written statement which are saved. Please note, none of the supporting text (even for policies which are saved) is considered to endure beyond this date. In order to gain a fuller understanding of the background to a policy it may still be helpful to refer to the April 1996 version of the Local Plan.

Policy 2 Green Belt

Policy 3 Settlements within the Green Belt

Policy 4 North East Stevenage

Policy 5 Excluded villages

Policy 6 Rural area beyond the Green Belt

Policy 7 Selected villages beyond the Green Belt

Policy 8 Development in towns

Policy 9 Royston’s Development Limits

Policy 11 Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Policy 14 Nature conservation

Policy 16 Areas of archaeological significance and other archaeological areas

Policy 19 Historic parks and gardens

Policy 21 Landscape and open space pattern in towns

Policy 25 Re-use of rural buildings

Policy 26 Housing proposals

Policy 28 House extensions

Policy 29 Rural housing needs

Policy 29a Affordable housing for urban local needs

Policy 30 Replacement or extension of dwellings in the countryside

Policy 33 Relatives and staff accommodation

Policy 34 Caravan and mobile homes

Policy 36 Employment provision

Policy 37 Business uses (B1 use class)

Policy 39 Leisure uses

Policy 42 Shopping

Policy 43 Shopping Areas in Town Centres

Policy 45 Shopfronts

Policy 47 General aviation

Policy 51 Development effects and planning gain

Policy 55 Car Parking Standards

Policy 57 Residential Guidelines and standards

Policy 58 Letchworth Garden City Design Principles 

Policy 2 - Green Belt

In the Green Belt, as shown on the Proposals Map, the Council will aim to keep the uses of land open in character.  Except for proposals within settlements which accord with Policy 3, or in very special circumstances, planning permission will only be granted for new buildings, extensions, and changes of use of buildings and of land which are appropriate in the Green Belt, and which would not result in significant visual impact.

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Policy 3 - Settlements within the Green Belt

In settlements within the Green Belt, the Council will not normally permit development proposals, except for:

  1. that strictly necessary for the housing and employment needs of agriculture, forestry, leisure and local services in the rural areas that cannot practicably be met outside the Green Belt; or
  2. the local facilities and services needs of the settlement within which the development is proposed; or
  3. the meeting of an identified rural housing need in compliance with Policy 29; or
  4. a single dwelling on a small plot located within the built core of the settlement, which will not result in the outward expansion of the settlement or have any other adverse impact on the local environment or other policy aims within the Green Belt.

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Policy 4 – North East Stevenage

North East of Stevenage, the Council will permit the development of a new neighbourhood area including housing (to meet needs arising from Stevenage), and other appropriate land uses, in accordance with an agreed land use Master Plan.  The development should relate well to the surrounding countryside and re-enforce a revised Green Belt boundary as shown on the Proposals Map.

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Policy 5 - Excluded villages

Within the excluded villages of Codicote, Ickleford, Kimpton, Knebworth and Little Wymondley, the Council will normally permit development for housing, employment, service and community facilities only if the development proposed is compatible with the maintenance and enhancement of village character, and the maintenance of Green Belt boundaries as shown on the Proposals Map.

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Policy 6: Rural Areas beyond the Green Belt

In Rural Areas beyond the Green Belt, the Council will maintain the existing countryside and villages and, and their character.  Except in Selected Villages (Policy 7), a development proposal will normally be allowed only if:

  • it is strictly necessary for the needs of agriculture, forestry or any proven need for local community services, provided that:
    • the need cannot practicably be met within a town, excluded village or selected village, and
    • the proposal positively improves the rural environment; or
  • it would meet an identified rural housing need, in compliance with Policy 29; or
  • it is a single dwelling on a small plot located within the built core of the settlement which will not result in outward expansion of the settlement or have any other adverse impact on the local environment or other policy aims within the Rural Areas; or
  • it involves a change to the rural economy in terms of Policy 24 or Policy 25.

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Policy 7: Selected Villages beyond the Green Belt

In Selected Villages within the Rural Area beyond the Green Belt, the Council will normally permit development proposals if:

  • the site lies within the main area of the village as shown on the Insets of the Proposals Map; and
  • the proposal is in line with the Policy Aims for Visual Character Areas (as set out in part 5 under the relevant Parish), or involves retaining and improving an existing building which contributes to the character or visual quality of the village; and
  • the proposal would maintain or enhance the character or visual quality of the village or the surrounding area; within a Conservation Area, the positive preservation or enhancement of its character will be expected (Policy 20).

The ‘Selected Villages’ are: Ashwell, Barkway, Barley, Great Offley, Holwell, Pirton, Sandon (Church End), Therfield and Whitwell.  Outside the defined areas of Selected Villages, the Council will not normally grant planning permission for development proposals unless the exceptions of Policy 6 apply.

Ashwell

V1    Church and environs

Meadows, farmstead and scattered buildings to be preserved as part of unique village setting.

V2    Eastern area.

Main area of village separated from ribbon development around Station Road by recreation ground and fields to remain as part of wider countryside.

V3    Dixies Mead / West End.

Important character of farmstead buildings and the extensive views of countryside through field to be retained close to village centre.

V4    South-West Area.

Visually separate area on rising ground.  Further development unacceptable in order to prevent extension of main area of village.

V5    Southern Edge.

Row of ribbon development and an area of low density development in a rural landscape the character of which should be protected from consolidation.

Barkway

V1    West of High Street.

Character of area contains open spaces with trees which should be retained to integrate edge into countryside.

Barley

V1    Playstow.

Central focus of village layout and large open space to be preserved as essential to character of village and countryside.

V2    High Street.

Essential open spaces between buildings to be retained as characteristic of village centre.

V3    Western edge.

Informal edge of village should be maintained and enhanced with tree planting and so integrate village into landscape.

V4    Church End.

Character of large buildings surrounded by important large open spaces with significant trees to be retained at the village edge.

V5    Southern Edge.

Important hedges and existing dwellings up lane to give village generally undeveloped character.

V6    London Road.

High banks and trees to be retained as visually attractive way into village.

Holwell

V1    The Church and surroundings.

The Church, the red-brick buildings and cottages are the historic part of the village, of which the character should be preserved.

Offley

V1    Luton Road

Character of village entrance with open spaces at road bend of highway verge and allotment frontage to be retained.

V2    Southern End

Loose-knit character of development to remain at village edge.

Pirton

V1    Toot Hill

Large open area relates to countryside outside village, is important historically and essential to character which should be preserved.  Any development should have regard to this character.

V2    Western Edge

The character of this area should remain as a transition from countryside to the built-up part of the village.

V3    Eastern Edge

Similar area of transition where development should not spread outwards to open countryside.

V4    Rear of Fox PH

A large remaining undeveloped area within the main body of the village, abutting the Conservation Area and visible in part from it, is open space framed by listed buildings.  Any new development must reflect the established open character of the site particularly safeguarding views from the Conservation Area and the setting of adjacent listed buildings.

St Paul’s Walden [Whitwell village]

V1    River Valley

Unspoilt valley area to be kept as open and attractive fringe to village.

V2    Bradway

Field boundary provides limit to further development but landscaping needed to integrate village into surrounding  countryside.

V3    Tower View

Village entrance needs enhancement through any redevelopment and new landscaping.

V4    St Paul’s Walden JMI

Landscape character to remain and be enhanced as characteristic of village entrance to complement open watercress beds opposite.

Sandon

V1    Church End Green

Scattered buildings are surrounded by open spaces of greens, large gardens, cemetery and roads should be retained as essential to village character.

V2    Southern Edge

Village entrance to remain undeveloped and integrated with rural landscape.

Therfield

V1    Tuthill Manor / Church

Large buildings surrounded by large spaces with mature trees provide special character to be retained as village setting in the landscape.

V2    Village Meadow

Extension of countryside into main area of village to be protected.

V3    Village Centre

Essential village characteristic of open spaces, greens and trees to be retained.

V4    Eastern Edge

Trees, large gardens and agricultural buildings provide setting which should be kept at village edge.

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Policy 8: Development in Towns

Within the towns of Baldock, Hitchin, Letchworth, and Royston, and at North East Stevenage (Policy 4), the Council will normally permit proposals to meet the majority of the development needs of the District if the aims of other relevant policies are met.

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Policy 9: Royston’s Development Limits

Around Royston, the Council will refuse development proposals outside the development limits boundary shown on the Proposals Map, unless they are acceptable in Rural Areas beyond the Green Belt (Policy 6).  Within the boundary, development proposals may be permitted if:

  1. the land is a Proposal Site or involves redevelopment; and
  2. landscaping related to the nature and character of Royston’s landscape setting is proposed in line with the landscaping guidance shown on the Proposals Map.  There will be a preference for the planting of indigenous species.

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Policy 11: Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

In the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Council will conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Area, when any development is permitted, by ensuring it is carefully sited and is of high quality design.  In addition, account will be taken of the effect on farming and woodland land uses, and wildlife conservation interests.  Access to the countryside for quiet enjoyment will be improved as far as possible; any provision for other leisure activities must be compatible with existing land uses and landscape conservation.

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Policy 14: Nature Conservation

For Local Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Nature Reserves of the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, and sites of local Wildlife Significance, the Council will preserve their wildlife importance by not normally granting planning permission for development proposals in these sites, or which may harm their value, and will seek their continued management for nature conservation.

For sites of Wildlife Value, the Council will not normally grant planning permission for development proposals which do not take account of and encourage the potential nature conservation value of the site.

Elsewhere, or when a development proposal is acceptable, the Council will expect development proposals to take account of, and where possible, to show improvements to the nature conservation value of the site and its surroundings.  In addition, the Council may require the preparation and implementation of a management scheme to maintain or enhance the site’s nature conservation value.

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Policy 16: Areas of Archaeological Significance and other Archaeological Areas

For Archaeological Areas, the Council may require a preliminary evaluation of any potential archaeological remains before deciding to permit or to refuse development proposals.  For Areas of Archaeological Significance, a preliminary evaluation will be required as part of the application for development which could disturb any possible archaeological remains.  To assess the archaeological value of specific sites, the Council will seek expert advice.

If the site is judged to be nationally important, and the remains should be left undisturbed, the Council will normally refuse development proposals which adversely affect the site or its setting.

On other sites, the Council may permit development proposals with conditions and/or a formal or informal agreement, depending on the archaeological value, to provide:

  • an excavation before development; and/or
  • facilities and an agreed period of time for access to the site for an investigation and/or a for ‘observation’ of the groundworks as development progresses by someone appointed by the Council; and/or
  • other measures as necessary; and/or
  • a contribution from the developer towards the funding of any relevant investigation.

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Policy 19: Historic Parks and Gardens

For Historic Parks and Gardens, the Council will refuse development proposals which destroy or result in any loss of their value.

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Policy 21: Landscape and Open Space Patterns in Towns

In towns, the Council will maintain a general pattern of landscape features, and of public and private open spaces, as shown on the Proposals Map:

  • by normally refusing development proposals which would have a significantly detrimental effect on the character, form, extent and structure of the pattern;
  • if development is acceptable in these terms, by requiring the character, form and layout of the development proposals to retain and/or reinforce the pattern through appropriate landscape and open space provision and quality of design;
  • by managing appropriate land for open spaces;
  • by encouraging their positive use and management for formal and informal recreation, for amenity and nature conservation; and
  • by undertaking and encouraging small scale environmental improvements where they will reinforce the pattern of landscape features and open spaces.  In addition, the Council will seek to reinforce the pattern in areas for consolidation of open space and landscape pattern as shown on the Proposals Map.

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Policy 25: Re-use of Rural Buildings

  • The re-use of rural buildings for commercial, industrial, or recreational purposes will be permitted provided that:
    • the form, bulk and general design of the building are in keeping with its surroundings;
    • the building has not become so derelict that it could be brought back into use only be complete or substantial reconstruction;
    • the new use will not have an adverse effect on the environment or on highway safety.
  • The re-use of rural buildings for residential purposes will be permitted provided that:
    • there will be no adverse effect on the local rural economy;
    • the building will not require extensive alteration, rebuilding and/or extension;
    • the use of the building and its curtilage will not harm the character of the countryside, or have an adverse effect on highway safety.
  • The re-use of buildings in the Green Belt which are of permanent and substantial construction will be permitted where the above criteria are met and provided that the new use does not have a materially greater impact than the present use on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it.

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Policy 26: Housing Proposals

Provision is made for about 8000 dwellings between 1986 and 2001.  For housing proposals, the Council will accord with strategic guidance by permitting development:

  • on sites listed in Part 5 and shown on the Proposals Map;
  • on sites within Residential Areas and elsewhere, if the proposal is acceptable in that location within the environment and character of the existing area; and
  • involving conversions or changes of use, if acceptable for that building and in land use and environmental terms.

Development proposals which involve the loss of land from existing employment use, and allocated for that purpose to meet the District’s employment needs, will generally be refused.  Developers of large housing sites in urban areas must have regard to the provisions of Policy 29A concerning affordable housing.

Saved sections of Part 5 under this policy:

Baldock

BR2/2a    Icknield Way East

BR3/1e    Clothall Common

A Development Brief is available for these sites indicating particular environmental requirements.

BR3/2e/2    Clothall Common

BR5/9    Lime Kiln Lane

The location and character of this site are extremely important in Baldock’s urban structure.  It is surrounded by loose-knit development and forms a wildlife corridor from Weston Woods, which also relates visually to the trees on the site.  Thus, any development proposal must contain a landscaping scheme with the following elements:

(a)the retention of all established boundary trees except the minimum needed to achieve a satisfactory vehicular access;

(b)a management scheme for the tree belt on the south eastern boundary;

(c)supplementary planting of the boundary hedgerows; and

(d)additional specimen trees within the development.

In addition, the sloping nature of the site determines that single storey buildings are the only acceptable form of development on the higher ground in order to retain the visual backdrop of trees.

BR5/10    Convent Close

This site is surrounded be development of a loose-knit character and forms part of Baldock’s landscape pattern linking Weston Woods and High Street.  Taking this into account, together with the limited capacity of the roads for further traffic, a development scheme should comprise:

(i)low density housing only;

(ii)access from only the existing roundabout at the northern edge of the site;

(iii)additional tree planting within the site along the St John’s School boundary; and

(iv)further generous planting to enhance the landscape pattern linking Weston Woods with the High Street.

BR6/2b    Woodland Way

Off-street parking required.  Further planting to improve landscaping along edge with Weston Woods, BLO/P1.

BR7/1    Clare Crescent

Off-street parking provision essential.

BR12/9    Icknield Way

Off-street parking provision essential.  Retain mature trees.

BR12/10    Orchard Road

Off-street parking provision essential.  Retain mature trees.

BR12/12    Orchard Road

Hitchin

HR1/3    Grove Road

HR6/3    St Michaels Road

High quality perimeter landscaping of prominent site.  Low rise development only in site’s southern area.

HR7/7    Station Approach

HR7/9    Whinbush Road

HR7/11    97 Walsworth Road

HR7/12    88 Walsworth Road

HR8/1    Benslow Lane

Retain hedgerow on boundary abutting footpath.

HR8/2    Benslow Lane

Retain mature trees on site.

HR9/8    Whitehill Road

HR10/2a    Kershaws Hill

Low density development required.  Road alignment to generally follow natural contours.  Off-street car parking essential.  Retention of existing mature trees and hedges required.

High quality planting necessary to strengthen and enhance existing site boundaries.

Small Open Space adjoins Kershaws Hill road required to maintain views of the town.

Access should be by means of culs-de-sac from St Andrews Place and/or Standhill Road so that there is no through route for traffic.

If access is taken from Standhill Road no more than 15 houses should be served and a scheme to provide for parking at the entrance to the school, and for traffic calming measures at the junction with Standhill Road shall form part of the development.

HR10/17    29 Park Street

HR11b/1    London Road

A Development Brief is available indicating particular environmental considerations for this site.

HR12a/7    Gosmore Road

HR14/3    Moormead Hill

Retain hedgerow and further tree planting to reinforce Green Belt on western boundary.

HR16/4    Bedford Road

HR16/7    Onslow Close

Off-street parking essential.

HR16/9    Former Hitchin General Hospital, Oughtonhead Way

Retention of mature trees, and of hedgerow by footpath on eastern boundary.

Off-street parking essential.

HR17/13    Bearton Road

HR18/9    Old Hale Way

Access to the site will have to be provided.

HR18/14    Former Hitchin School, Old Hale Way

Letchworth

LR4/6    Pixmore Avenue / Pixmore Way

No development should take place in the general central area near the A505 road junction, to retain the parkland setting and open views into the site.  Retain mature trees.

LR6/5    Letchworth Gate

LR6/10    Former Willian School

LR8/5    Barrington Road

LR9/4    Broadway / Spring Road

LR9/5    Spring Road

LR11/1    Wilbury Lodge / Icknield Way

Retention of mature trees at edge of site.

LR11/4    Former CGA site, Icknield Way

LR11/13    Icknield Way

Retention of existing mature trees required.

High quality planting necessary to strengthen and enhance existing site boundaries.

Enhanced footpath link required through the site.

No part of any residential scheme adjoining the rear of 125-135 Icknield Way shall exceed two storeys in height.

Policy 58 applies.

LR13/2-8    Valley Road

Parking to be off-street to avoid congestion.

Future amenity trees to be planted early in any redevelopment.

Royston

RR1/2    Former Nursery, Orchard Road

Access must be taken from Weston Avenue for highway safety reasons.

High quality landscaping to Old North Road frontage.

RR2/1    Gower RoadRetain existing landscape features.

High quality landscaping to screen railway and commercial uses.

NB RR2 contains a variety of commercial uses in a small area at Gower Road.  Whilst the Council does not intend to remove these uses, if the opportunity arises then residential use would be appropriate.  Open space at the eastern end and alongside the railway would be appropriate and enhance the town’s landscape pattern.

RR2/9    19/19a Gower Road

RR3/2    Coombes Estate

High quality landscaping, particularly along boundary.

RR3/3    Ex sewage works

Open space, landscaping and footpath link to RLO/P1.  Access from Burns Road should be continued through the site to the northern edge so as not to prejudice future development considerations.

NB The Council does not necessarily accept that the land is not contaminated.  Any proposal will be required to demonstrate that the site is suitable for development and the application for planning permission should be supported by an appropriate soil investigation report.

RR4/22    Stamford Avenue

RR4/25    Clark Road

RR10/8    Turpins Ride

RR11/4    Royse Grove

Retain existing trees on the site where possible.

RR13/3    r/o 61-81 Green Drift

RR13/7    Green Drift / Tannery Drift

RR13/14    HCC Depot, Green Drift

Development must be sympathetic to the general character of the area.

Retention of existing mature trees and hedges required.

High quality planting necessary to strengthen and enhance existing site boundaries.

Green Drift building line to be maintained, with wide landscaped frontage.

Housing to be set around small green open space.

R19/1    Land west of Kneesworth Street

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Policy 28: House Extensions

For house extensions, the Council will normally only permit development proposals if:

  1. the extension is sympathetic to the existing house in height, form, proportions, window details and materials; and
  2. pitched roofs are used where appropriate, particularly if the extension is more than the height of a single storey.

Rear extensions should not dominate adjoining property and should be well related to the levels of adjoining properties, the direction the house faces, and the distance between the extension and the windows in the next door properties.  For extensions less than 3 metres from the rear main wall of the existing house, the Council will normally permit development.

Side extensions adjoining a residential plot to the side will normally be refused if, at first-floor level or above, less than 1 metre from the boundary.

The Council will normally refuse proposals for extensions which would result in a deficiency or worsen an existing deficiency, of off-street car parking spaces based upon standards in Policy 55.

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Policy 29: Rural Housing Needs

For local rural housing needs, the Council may permit specific development proposals for special small-scale housing needs designed to meet a proven local need as an exception to its normal policies in the Green Belt (Policy 2) and the Rural Areas beyond the Green Belt (Policy 6) outside Selected Villages (Policy 7) but only if:

  • the proposal is expressly designed to meet a specific and proven local need;
  • the need cannot be met in any other way;
  • the occupation will be limited to certain people, who immediately prior to allocation were:
    • first time buyers; or
    • retired or disabled people who have lived or worked in the areas specified in (iv) for at least one year; or
    • households living in sub-standard accommodation; or
    • households not having separate accommodation; or
    • persons on or eligible to be on the Council’s Housing Waiting List; or
    • immediate descendants of presently resident persons who have themselves been a resident in the area specified (iv) for the past year; or
    • in permanent employment in the area specified in (iv) or have the offer in writing of a job in that area which will be accepted if a unit of accommodation is offered;
  • future occupants come from the local area which includes (a) the identified parish; and (b) the immediately adjoining parishes;
  • the proposal will in the long term succeed financially in providing for local housing needs;
  • the housing will be managed so as to prevent any part of it becoming available on the general housing market;
  • the proposal is visually sympathetic to the existing character of the settlement to which it will relate and, in the view of the Local Planning Authority, does not detract from that character or the landscape around;
  • the aims of this policy have been secured in a binding legal agreement; and
  • where the proposal is in the Green Belt it is located within an existing settlement and is consistent with the function and purposes of the Green Belt.

Housing proposals which only offer an initial discounted purchase price will not normally be considered as conforming with this policy.

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Policy 29A: Affordable Housing for Urban Local Needs

In considering the residential development of sites within the urban areas, the Council will seek to negotiate the inclusion of affordable housing to meet local needs.  The Council will seek a provision of 25% of units in the district as a whole, on sites for twenty NB: As of 1 April 2007, the effective threshold has been reduced to fifteen dwellings in accordance with paragraphs 29 and 8 of Planning Policy Statement 3 (November 2006). or more dwellings; and in considering the proportion for individual sites, regard will be had to the housing needs of the local area, the economics of provision, and individual site and market considerations.

Affordable housing will include: dwellings where occupancy is restricted to local people in need; and where environmentally acceptable, high density developments of small affordable open market housing.

The Council will seek to ensure that dwellings made available to local people in need will be reserved to meet such need in the future through a housing association or other social trust; or through an appropriate planning agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act  1990; or through partnerships between the Council and developers.

For the purposes of this Policy, ‘local people in need are, in the case of proposed development:

  • in a town, live currently in that town or an adjoining parish, and
  • in excluded or selected villages, live currently in that village, its parish or an adjoining parish.

For the purposes of this policy, the occupation of affordable houses will be limited to local people in need who immediately prior to an allocation were:

  • first time buyers; or
  • retired or disabled; or
  • households living in sub-standard accommodation; or
  • households not having separate accommodation; or
  • persons on or eligible to be on the Council’s Housing Active Waiting List; or
  • in permanent employment in the areas specified in (a) or (b) above.

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Policy 30: Replacement or Extension of Dwellings in the Countryside

For existing dwellings anywhere in the countryside outside excluded or selected villages, the Council will normally refuse proposals for their replacement or extension if a materially greater impact would result.  A landscaping scheme related to the surrounding will be expected.  Also extensions will normally be refused if they result in a size, scale and design out of keeping with the original building and give the effect of a new dwelling.

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Policy 33: Relatives and Staff Accommodation

For the accommodation of relatives, dependants or staff within the grounds of an existing dwelling, the Council will permit the development proposal if:

  • a genuine need can be shown; and
  • its size is small and it is physically related to the existing dwelling, normally by the adaptation or extension of existing accommodation; and
  • future occupancy is restricted, either to the purpose stated or to that ancillary to the existing dwelling, by condition with any planning permission.

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Policy 34: Residential Caravans and Mobile Homes

For mobile homes and caravans the Council will normally refuse proposals for extensions to existing sites or the provision of additional sites whether the structures are grouped or individual.

The Council will normally refuse proposals for replacement of mobile homes or caravans by permanent housing on existing sites in the Green Belt (Policy 2) or Rural Areas beyond the Green Belt (Policy 6) in order to retain low cost housing.

The Council may, in special circumstances, permit the use of land for mobile homes or caravans on a temporary basis if:

  • there is a proven need; and
  • there will be little or no likelihood of a replacement application to renew the permission for a further temporary period; and
  • particular attention has been paid to its siting, appearance, setting and landscaping.

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Policy 36:  Employment Provision

For employment uses, the Council will permit proposals, particularly for small firms, for development and redevelopment to meet the needs of the available labour supply and changes in the local economy:

  1. within Employment Areas, particularly sites specified in Part 5 and shown on Proposals Maps;
  2. elsewhere which is appropriate in land use, highway, settlement character and amenity terms.

In addition to the above, regard will be had to the criteria of Policies 64 and 65 of the Hertfordshire County Structure Plan Review incorporating Approved Alterations 1991.

The Council will limit some areas of the towns to business uses because of environmental and highway constraints, as set out in Policy 37.

Saved parts of Part 5 under this policy:

Baldock

BE1    Royston Road (Bygrave parish)

Additional boundary landscaping to premises within the area would improve its appearance particularly from the boundary with BR7 desirable.

Proposal BE1/1    Royston Road

BE2    High St / London Road

Reinforcement of landscaping at adjoining Green Belt area.

BE3    Icknield Way

The whole of this area is identified for only B1 uses because of the proximity to residential uses and poor access.

BE4    Holroyd CrescentOffices, as an appropriate use near residential properties, are currently being built.

Hitchin

HE1    Wilbury Way

Additional landscaping at the boundary with the Green Belt is needed along the northern edge.  Additional landscaping to some frontages would improve the environment.  Because of the limited access to the area and limited capacity of surrounding roads, further significant traffic generating development will not be allowed.  Further tree planting along boundary with residential area HR1.

Proposal HE1/1    Wilbury Way (East side)

High quality landscaping is required within the area and at the boundary with the Green Belt at the northern and eastern edges of the site.

Proposal HE1/2    Knowl Piece

Proposal HE1/3    Wilbury Way

HE2    Cadwell Lane / Wallace Way

Permission will not be granted for development which would be likely to result in the breakage of the surface or otherwise affect the proper decomposition of deposited material on the former refuse tip off Cadwell Lane, unless the applicant can demonstrate that the site has reached a satisfactory state of stability.  Because of the limited access to the area and limited capacity of surrounding roads, further significant traffic generating development will not be allowed.

Additional landscaping along the boundary with residential area HR1.

HE3    Burymead Road

Landscaping improvements to the boundary with residential area HR18.

HE4    Cooks Way / Sharps Way

Frontage to Cambridge Road would benefit from additional planting, subject to highway visibility (see also HR2).  Any redevelopment and/or landscaping which would benefit the environment of the area will be encouraged, subject to careful consideration of likely levels of traffic generation.

Proposal HE4/1    Cooks Way

HE5    Station Approach

Consideration will be given to the traffic generation impact of any development proposals due to the restricted access to the area.

HE6    Walsworth Road

Letchworth

LE1    Blackhorse Road

Retention and improvement of landscape screening at boundary with residential area LR3.

Improve landscaping at boundary with Green Belt to improve views into the town.

Additional tree planting to site boundaries and/or high-way verges, particularly on Blackhorse Road frontage.

Proposal LE1/1    Blackhorse Road / Green Lane

Retention of existing landscape features.

LE2    Works Road

Additional planting to site frontages should be undertaken where possible.

Verge tree planting desirable where appropriate.

Screen planting on boundary with A505 required, particularly trees.

Improved landscaping at boundary with residential area LR4 where possible.

Proposal LE2/2    Works Road

Screen landscaping at the boundary with Green Belt required.

Proposal LE2/3    Fourth Avenue

High quality landscaping within sites and along boundary with A505.

Proposal LE2/2    Third Avenue

Proposal LE2/5    Fifth Avenue

Proposal LE2/6    Avenue One

Proposal LE2/7    Dunhams Lane

Proposal LE2/8    Works Road

LE3    Icknield Way East

Additional tree, shrub and hedge planting on site frontages and where possible within sites desirable.

Proposal LE3/1    Icknield Way East

LE4    Icknield Way West (Highover Road)

Reinforcement of boundary with residential area LR11 desirable.(*)

LE5    Icknield Way West (Bridge Road)

Retention and enhancement of existing landscape features required.

Reinforcement of boundary landscaping on Icknield Way West, and adjoining residential area LR12 desirable.

RE1    Orchard Way/York Road

Verge and/or hedge planting on A14 Melbourn Road. (*)

Additional tree, shrub and hedge planting within the area, in particular on road frontages and adjoining residential area RR1 and opposite RR13.

Screen planting along boundary with rural area to north-west to improve the landscape setting of the area. (*)

Tree planting within sites should be undertaken where possible.

Proposal RE1/1    Civic amenities site

Screen planting along boundary with open space RLO/P7.

High quality landscaping to York Way frontage.

Proposal RE1/2    Land north of York Way

Screen planting along the boundary with track to north where sites adjoin track required.

High quality landscaping on remaining boundaries and within sites required.

(To effectively achieve this, the Council expects about one-third of the site area to be given over to landscaping throughout the site.)

Muted colours for building, particularly roofs, are preferred, because of the prominence of the site over a wide area.

Proposal RE1/3    Land west of Sheriffs

Screen planting to boundary with rural area to west required. (See Policy 9 Royston’s Development Limits). (*)

Reinforce and extend woodland beside railway to screen housing to south and improve landscape setting of development.(*)

Proposal RE1/4    Land east of Sheriffs

Proposal RE1/5    Orchard Way

Proposal RE1/6    York Way

RE2    Lumen Road

Additional landscaping and enhancement at boundaries of area, particularly immediately adjoining housing areas.

RE3    Baldock Road

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Policy 37: Business Uses (B1 Use Class)

For business uses, the Council will permit development proposals:

  • primarily in town centres outside Town Centre Shopping Areas, (Policy 44) particularly as part of urban renewal where old building are re-used and the area’s character is enhanced;
  • on site specified for this use listed in Part 5 and shown on the Proposals Map; in these areas and sites, permission for employment uses other than class B1 will not normally be permitted when the use would be harmful to residential amenity or to the environment generally; and
  • elsewhere, primarily through urban regeneration and renewal, if appropriate in land use, highway, settlement character and amenity terms.

The Council will have regard to Policies 64 and 65 of the Hertfordshire County Structure Plan Review incorporating Approved Alterations 1991.

Saved parts of Part 5 under this policy:

Baldock: BEB1 Bondor Business Centre; BEB2 Holroyd Crescent; and BEB3 Icknield Way.

Hitchin: HEB1 Wilbury Way; HEB2 Cadwell Lane; HEB3 Burymead Road; and HEB4 Walsworth Road

Letchworth: LEB1 Blackhorse Road (ICL building); LEB2 Pixmore Avenue (Skills Centre); LEB3 Ridge Road; LEB4 Icknield Way East (South); LEB5 Icknield Way East (North); LEB6 Icknield Way West (adj railway); LEB7 Icknield Way West (Bridge Road); and LEB8 Birds Hill.

Royston: REB1 Orchard Road East; REB2 Lumen Road

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Policy 39: Leisure Uses

For leisure uses, the Council will normally permit development proposals which are acceptable in land use and environmental terms, and according to the following criteria:

  • high intensity leisure uses (such as facilities for the arts, dance, health and fitness, or cinemas, theatres and hotels) are acceptable in town centres with good accessibility where this would strengthen the role of the town centres;
  • medium and low intensity leisure uses (such as sport and limited ancillary buildings) will normally be permitted within towns outside town centres, between towns and  exceptionally within rural settlements in other rural areas to meet only rural community needs; and
  • low intensity leisure development will normally be permitted between towns where it would improve the rural environment or it would prevent coalescence between towns.

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Policy 42: Shopping

For retail uses, the Council will permit developments:

  • which support and maintain shopping as the main activity in town centres, but only if these safeguard and enhance the environment of the three historic towns of Baldock, Hitchin and Royston and the World’s First Garden City, Letchworth;
  • for convenience goods retailing on sites identified in Part 5 and shown on the Proposals Map subject to a limitation on the scale of development where necessary in order to not seriously affect the vitality and viability of a nearby town centre;
  • for non-food retail warehouse development on sites identified in Part 5 and shown on the Proposals Map.  Where appropriate, conditions may be imposed to limit the scale of development and types of goods sold in order to not seriously affect the vitality and viability of a nearby town centre;
  • elsewhere in the District only in exceptional circumstances, where:
    • the proposal cannot be accommodated within a town centre because of: the centre’s nature or lack of space; damage to its character, overloaded roads, car parking, and service facilities, or it is under 1,500 square metres in a local centre to serve local shopping needs;
    • the proposal does not seriously affect the vitality and viability of a nearby town centre as a whole;
    • the proposal is accessible to the general public on foot or by private or public transport, assists urban renewal, and does not take land required for other employment uses or for housing; and
    • the traffic generation implications of the proposed development are acceptable in highway and environmental terms.

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Policy 43: Shopping Areas in Town Centres

Within town centre Shopping Areas, the Council will permit development proposals:

  • within Shopping Frontages, normally only if the proposal is  for a retail use on the ground floor (A1 Use Class);
  • elsewhere within Shopping Areas;
    1. for retail uses and eating/drinking places on the ground floor (A1 and A3 Use classes); or
    2. for other uses if it can be shown that the proposal will not disrupt the shopping pattern and will attract people to the centre or it is above ground floor level and does not mean a loss of a dwelling; and
  • only if the environmental aims of the Local Plan are met, particularly in Conservation Areas (Policy 20), for shopfronts (Policy 45) and for advertisements (Policy 46).

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Policy 45: Shopfronts

For shopfronts, the Council will normally require the retention of existing ones where their architectural or historical interest, or design, relate well to their surroundings.  The Council will only permit alterations or replacements if:

  • any published design advice is adhered to;
  • the design is in sympathy with adjacent shopfronts, with particular regard to fascia lines, stallriser heights, glazing, bay widths, materials and colours;
  • the design also respects the scale, character and construction of the building and appropriate adjoining buildings in the street scene;
  • the fascias do not extend up to or above first floor window sills;
  • the fascias are not so deep as to be out of proportion with the building and adjoining buildings;
  • the fascias have a common depth on individual buildings serving two or more shop units;
  • the fascias have different depths on buildings with different architectural styles; and
  • the proposal meets the aims of Policy 18 – Listed Buildings, and Policy 20 – Conservation Areas where applicable.

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Policy 47: General Aviation

For general aviation airfields, the Council will refuse development proposals for their increased use which could cause highway safety problems or greater nuisance from noise and from increased traffic on access roads.

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Policy 51: Development Effects and Planning Gain

NB: see also the Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document 2006:

The Council will seek an agreement (usually under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) to ensure contributions towards the provision and maintenance of facilities or other aspects including contributions towards offsetting the costs to the community arising directly as a result of the development where these are relevant to planning.

Where the effects of development relate to wider issues relevant to planning, the Council will ask for voluntary agreements with developers or landowners to contribute financially or in kind towards the provision and maintenance of works, amenity areas, facilities or services needed as a result, in particular in town centres or elsewhere where the Council has a planned programme.

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Policy 55: Car Parking Standards

NB: See also the Car Parking Zones SPD 2006:

The Council will require all development proposals to be provided with car parking spaces, or for housing development with garages, to be reasonably convenient to the future users and meet the following standards.  As an exception and if the Council agrees that overriding landscape, conservation, amenity or traffic and management reasons are justified, the Council will accept payment to generate funds for new parking spaces elsewhere.

Within Parking Control Areas in town centres shown on the Proposals Maps, the Council considers that normally payments are preferable to parking provision for each development in these town centre locations.  These funds will help achieve the programme of car parking improvements adopted by the Council.  The possibility of public spaces being provided by the developer will be considered.

The minimum requirements for certain land uses are as follows:

  • Residential Uses
    • For each Elderly Person’s Dwelling

1 Bedroom: Category 1

If the occupancy is controlled by an Agreement with the Council, and spaces are allocated to each dwelling1.00

Similarly, but spaces are not allocated0.75

1 – Bedroom: Category 20.35

1 – Bedroom: Category 3As determined by need

Staff car parking will be provided as for general housing

  • For each “general housing” dwelling

1 – Bedroom: within or outside the curtilage1.00

2 – Bedrooms: within the curtilage, or2.00

2 – Bedrooms: outside the curtilage1.75

3 – Bedroom: within or outside the curtilage2.00

4 or more Bedrooms: within or outside the curtilage3.00

  • Also, public unallocated spaces will normally be provided on the basis of 1 space for 4 dwelling convenient to the dwelling they serve and generally not more than 20 metres away.

The above standards will normally still be applied to development proposals along an existing road frontage.

  • Employment Uses

(All floorspace figures are gross measurements, i.e. total floor area measured between the inside faces of external walls)

  • General industrial (B2), and Storage and Distribution (B8 Uses)

Up to and including 235 sq. metres

1 space for every 25 sq. metres or 1 space for 30 sq. metres where the applicant agrees to the imposition of a condition removing the permitted development right to change to a B1 use.

236sq metres up to and including 1000 sq. metres

1 space for every 30 sq. metres

1001 sq. metres or greater

35 spaces plus 1 space for every additional 60 sq. metres.

  • Business (B1) Use

up to and including 1000 sq. metres

1 space for every 25 sq. metres

1001 sq. metres or greater

40 spaces plus 1 space for every additional 35 sq. metres.

Note: the floorspace categories relate to individual units in the size ranges, not to total floorspace where a number of separate lettable units are proposed as part of a single planning application.

  • Shopping (A1) Use

1 space for every 35 square metres of gross floorspace, but the provision of large retail proposals over 1,500 square metres will be determined on the basis of a traffic impact assessment.

  • Financial and Professional Services (A2) Use

1 space for every 35 square metres of gross floorspace.

  • Public Houses/Bars (A3) Use

1 space per 3 square metres of public bar area.  Additionally, 3 spaces for every 4 employees (or full time equivalent) based on maximum use at any one time.

  • Other Uses

For other uses, the Council will require an appropriate level of car parking provision based on an assessment of the proposed activity, its scale, type and location.  Due regard will also be taken of any existing up-to-date guidance available and in particular the Hertfordshire Technical Chief Officers’ Association – Review of Hertfordshire Car Parking Standards.

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Policy 57: Residential Guidelines and Standards

The Council expects that all proposals for residential development including extensions and changes of uses will meet the objectives of the guidelines as set out below.

Box contains supporting text referred to in policy.

Guideline 1 - Site and Surroundings

Each housing site is unique.  Thus, the layout, design and so character of each new development must relate to that site's physical shape and existing features, and the character of the surroundings, whether urban or rural.  To produce a good design, a detailed site survey (including levels) and an analysis are essential before preparing a housing scheme.  The survey and analysis should normally be submitted in an application for the approval of any details.

The concern for the site and surroundings is equally, if not more, important for small developments or conversions.  For example, single dwellings or minor changes to a barn can have a disastrous impact on the street scene or the building itself.  This may be due to insensitivity to the scale of the surrounding buildings or the use of the wrong type of materials.

Existing features should be retained as far as possible and special account taken of the site's location at the edges of towns or villages and within or adjoining Conservation Areas. Development proposals on sites with areas having an 'established' character will need careful consideration as to whether they are acceptable at all.  If they are, then the design and siting of buildings should enhance the area's character.

North Hertfordshire possesses a wide range of urban environments; many are 'established' with important townscape elements such as trees, brick walls and open spaces. Letchworth, in particular, has a character theme which is common throughout much of the town, being planned as the World's First Garden City early this century.  These environments should be reflected and improved in all new housing, large or small, and changes to existing buildings.

Guideline 2 - Design and Layout

The design and layout of new houses should be acceptable to most people in visual, functional and social terms, whether as residents or as visitors.  To combine amenity and practical requirements in a sensible layout of attractive buildings and spaces between them needs imagination.  For high density* developments, permitted development rights may be removed when development is first permitted.

Moreover, new residential areas adjacent to open agricultural land require careful consideration to ensure that the layout and design minimise any potential urban fringe problems and lessen any detrimental effects on adjacent open countryside and its land uses.

To achieve the highest standards of design, housing proposals should relate to and enhance their site and surroundings.  An important element of layout is the design of the road and footpath system (see Guideline Number 3).  Where possible, because of the total number, dwellings should be grouped in informal and small-scale clusters.  Materials used should result in one or more consistent themes within a layout so long as the character of the surroundings is respected when viewed from both within and outside the site.

The design should have layout features which are likely to prevent opportunities for crime.  The Council will take account of police advice and resist proposals which do not meet the criteria set out in 'Secured by Design'.  Such advice is always subject to other planning aspects and the requirements of the Building and Fire Regulations.  In specific cases development briefs will be prepared and the principles in these should be followed.  It is accepted that design and environmental factors, including concepts of defensible space, natural surveillance, security lighting, access control, and security hardware can have an effect on the potential for crime.  Police advice on design against crime at the planning stage is always available to developers and their architects from the Hertfordshire Constabulary Headquarters at Welwyn Garden City.

Guideline 3 - Roads and Footpaths

Residential roads and footpaths must be safe, convenient and easily maintained routes for people and traffic to move around.  In significant new housing areas, cycleways should be included; these could in some circumstances be shared with footpaths depending on safety.  They also affect: the arrangement, spacing and visual character of the houses they serve; the size and shape of gardens; landscaping and provision for play and other outdoor activities.

The road and footpath layout should:

  • minimise the danger and nuisance from traffic which passes through the new development;
  • keep vehicle flows and speeds low in the vicinity of homes;
  • provide safe and convenient pedestrian routes between homes and to local community facilities;
  • minimise the danger to pedestrians and the inconvenience to emergency and other services which can be caused by on-street parking;
  • create safe routes for vehicular movement; and
  • enable residents' needs for statutory and other services to be met efficiently.

In considering detailed proposals, the use of sympathetic materials and physical management measures will be encouraged to achieve the slowing down of traffic or 'traffic calming'.  These must relate properly to the overall landscape design (see Guideline 9).

Guideline 4 - Mix of Dwelling Sizes

The character of attractive towns and villages is determined particularly by the variations in the built environment.  New development should seek to enhance the character of existing settlements through skilful design.  Partly to help this process and partly to fulfil the housing needs of the local area, a mixture of dwelling sizes should be proposed, particularly on larger sites.

Guideline 5 - Floorspace

Within a dwelling, the total space and the size of rooms should meet the reasonable requirements of the expected occupants and serve their intended purposes.

Guideline 6 - Orientation

Reasonable levels of sunlighting and daylighting should be achieved in the design and layout of dwellings.  The DoE Manual 'Sunlight and Daylight' will be used as a guide.

Guideline 7 - Privacy

A distance of 30 metres between the rears of dwellings may achieve a minimum degree of privacy if a 2 metre wall or fence is used as a screen.  Careful attention to detailed design, in particular the size, type, location and projection of windows can result in a high degree of privacy.  However, site characteristics, topography and building design are factors which can affect layouts.  On sloping sites a greater distance will be required.

Guideline 8 - Play and Amenity Space

New housing areas should have play and amenity space for future residents' needs as part of an attractive layout.  Such open space should be well designed and, where possible, become part of the wider landscape setting.  In some situations, particularly if the number of dwellings is small, the provision of public open space may not be possible.

The sizes of gardens or private amenity space in a new housing development should relate to the needs of future residents and to the amount of public amenity space.  The larger the house, the greater generally should be the garden area, and thus public amenity space can be towards the minimum.  However, for high density developments such as small, terraced houses or flats, the Council would expect a higher amount of public amenity space.  On the basis of an average 15 metres minimum back garden depth, a rough guide would be private amenity space of 75 square metres.

Flats also require a minimum reasonable private utility and amenity space.  For general and elderly persons housing, 18 square metres per one-bedroom flat should be provided with a further 10 square metres for each additional bedroom.

Where public open space can reasonably be expected, the National Playing Fields Association standards will be used: 0.4 hectares/1000 population for informal open space; and between 0.6 and 0.8 hectares/1000 population for children's playspace.  As a minimum standard for say 50 houses, 500 square metres and 750 square metres will be required respectively.  More will usually be expected depending upon the types of dwellings and the location of the space within the layout.  In relation to the size of playspaces, approved play equipment for children should be provided.  This equipment and the land for public open space should be dedicated to the Council.

Both public and private open spaces will contribute to the patterns of spaces in the towns.  Thus, the Council will expect a proposal's layout of open spaces with landscaping to contribute to those patterns (see Policy 21).  Moreover, it will adopt the public space in order to maintain it in the future.

Careful and imaginative design of the spaces is needed to produce an attractive layout linked in with the footpaths.  A balance must be achieved between a level of supervision for child safety and crime prevention and the potential for noise nuisance to residents living beside the space.

Guideline 9 - Landscape

A proposed landscape should be part of the overall design.  The layout should relate to the existing landscape features, which should be kept where possible (see Guideline 1).  Whilst the surroundings should be taken into account, new housing schemes should enhance the landscape of the site and hence the surroundings.  This may mean that open spaces are used as part of the landscape design; or that schemes are outward-looking so that surrounding it my a tree belt is not right for the particular site and scheme.

At the edges of towns or villages, care should be taken to achieve landscaping at the right scale.  The aim should be to provide an attractive setting and long term boundary to the settlement.  Tree belts, if appropriate in these locations, should be a minimum of 10 metres wide.

Advanced planting in these and other locations must be considered and may be required as a condition on a planning permission.  Landscaping proposals should be part of the initial application on sensitive and significant sites, and not treated as a 'reserved' matter.

Attention to detail, using trees, shrubs and grass as 'soft' landscape features and walls, paving, road surfaces and street furniture as 'hard' landscape features can create a sense of identity, avoiding visual and noise intrusion (see also Guideline 3).  Not only is the initial planting important in itself and early establishment essential, including replacement if necessary, but also attention must be paid to the continued growth of the plants and their maintenance in the particular situation.

Guideline 10 - Noise

Outside most dwellings, noise from motor traffic causes the most disturbance.  In some areas, noise from trains or aircraft may disturb residents.  In addition, certain activities result in noise.  The design and layout of buildings, including the use of the right building materials and the building of soil mounds can noticeably reduce the disturbing effects of noise.  Noise limits are given: In Policy 54 for road traffic; in Policy 53 for trains; and Policy 23 for aircraft.

Guideline 11 - Car Parking and Garaging

Space for cars to park is essential for residents and their visitors.  This should be provided in any housing proposal and sympathetic to the layout and design.  Normally as parking spaces or garages, these should be close and convenient to dwellings they will serve.  Car parking requirements are set down in Policy 55.

Guideline 12 - Servicing

Apart from the roads and footpaths in the layout, future residents will require appropriate services from the statutory undertakers (gas, electricity, water and telephone), the emergency services (fire, police and ambulance), delivery and refuse collection, and other essential services.  On larger proposals, the need for public transport and hence adequate access and turning facilities should be provided for.  Wherever possible and appropriate to the design of a scheme, 'joint' facilities for telecommunications apparatus should be provided in a single location.

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Policy 58: Letchworth Garden City Design Principles

The Council will only consider development proposals in Letchworth if they are in sympathy with the traditional buildings of Letchworth and if they clearly show that the Garden City Design Principles below have been taken into account.

Garden City Design Principles

  • For development proposals in Letchworth, their overall layout and design should, as far as practicable, reflect 'Garden City' layout and design principles.  Creative reinterpretation of the principles in the light of modern requirements will be sought, and a knowledge of the quality and variety of early garden residential development in the Garden City is a pre-requisite to the success of any proposals.  The following notes are intended to give a guide to examples which might be studied, with benefit.
  • The term 'Garden City' is equated with open residential development, characteristically low density and generously landscaped with mature trees and hedges set amongst individual houses.  This is only partly true.  Many of the finest early Garden City layouts depended on a successful corporate design for the scheme as a whole, in addition to the individual features mentioned above.  The key to success in the best of examples quoted below is the appreciation of the way houses are grouped to form a sequence of outdoor spaces related to each other and to the overall setting.
  • The broadest overall effect is that of the vista.  This has a formal quality exemplified by the broad tree-lined swathe which projects the main axis of the town across Norton Common, and was very effectively handled in the section of Broadway between the J.F. Kennedy Gardens and the Sollershotts where a double avenue of Lime trees was planted.  Other principal approach roads of the town were treated in this manner, for example Norton Way South and Pixmore Way.  In the latter, the articulated building lines of the early Letchworth U.D.C. Council housing was notably successful.
  • In contrast, the principle of closure represented the breaking down of the street picture into sequences by means of closing the view at key points, particularly at road junctions.  Notable examples are the view southwards into Rushby Mead from Hillshott analysed in detail below; The Crescent between Pixmore Way and Baldock Road where a series of spaces is created along a curved road; or more formally, in Jackmans Place around the triple road junction where a focal block is set across the view line.  The use of an informal design approach should not be at the expense of purposeful design of space framed by buildings, an aspect always emphasised by Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, consultant architects for the original Letchworth Plan of 1904 and much of the subsequent detailed layout of housing.
  • Within the street picture, accents were often created by variations in the building line.  For example, the splayed arrangement of the tree blocks of Silver Birch Cottages in Station Road added visual interest to an otherwise monotonous road.  Greens were used to create a corporate sense of design, for example at Westholm, Ridge Road and in the section of Lytton Avenue between Gernon Road and Pixmore Way.
  • Finally, group design was used as a means of giving identity to the various roads within the Garden City.  The residential cul-de-sac, was one of the earliest instances of the use of a feature which is now common in housing layouts.  Other means of grouping include the linking together of blocks at street corners, as at the junction of Ridge Avenue and Hillshott, and the use of linking walls and garages as in the groups at the junction of Lytton Avenue and South View.  Occasionally, corners would be treated with blocks of striking design, for example the twin 'L' blocks which frame the north side of the junction between Sollershott East and Field Lane or the block boldly set diagonally across the acute angled junction between Sollershott East and South View.
  • In his classic book, Town Planning in Practice, published in 1909, Raymond Unwin stressed the importance of the architect and planner using the "main building lines and masses, placing any important features in his design, such as the terminal feature at the end of a road, or any buildings required to limit the size and give a sense of frame to the street picture". Unwin recognised the difficulty with predominantly detached houses, with a statement of design principles as relevant today as 75 years ago: "With the square plot and the detached house in the centre of it the garden is necessarily cut up into several pieces of little practical value.... while the main garden has no single dimension large enough to develop any vista.......One of the greatest difficulties to be contended with is the constant multiplication of buildings too small in scale to produce individually any effect in the road... even where it is not possible to avoid much repetition of semi-detached or detached houses, they should be arranged to give some sense of grouping. The setting back of three or four pairs of houses in the arrangement of a continuous green in front of them, with the proper treatment of the houses at each end which are set forward against the building line, could of itself produce some grouping... hardly anything is more monotonous than the repetition of detached or semi-detached houses and this monotony is little relieved by variety in the individual houses... the variety is, as it were, unrelieved variety".
  • The detailed design, forms and materials used in Letchworth are also worthy of study. In 1904, First Garden City Ltd stated in its Garden City Building Regulations that "the high standard of beauty which they desire to attain in the Garden City can only result from simple, straight-forward building, and from the use of good and harmonious materials. They desire as far as possible to discourage useless ornamentation and secure that buildings shall be suitably designed for their purpose and position". As a result of this, such materials as rough cast brickwork and rich red tiled roofs became almost standardised, particularly for grouped housing whilst the use of slate as a roofing material was prohibited. Design features such as dormer windows and gables were accented with tile-hanging or dark stained boarding. Shortly before the First World War when the Georgian style became fashionable, dark red stock brick was effectively used with white painted wooden sash windows. The adoption of a steep roof pitch for most of the early houses and the variety and ingenuity of the handling of the gables, hips and dormers resulted in an overall variety without sacrificing the basic unit provided by the material.
  • Once again, Raymond Unwin provided guidance of continued relevance. He urged architects to "apportion materials with a view to some colour scheme. He will avoid monotony, not by an irregular jumble of materials and colours, but by a sufficient though unobtrusive variation in the different buildings, leading up to more definite breaks in colour in certain parts; treating differently different roads or parts of roads, and so producing interest and variety on his estate, which will be greatly helped by the sense of unity maintained in each individual part, and of harmony over the whole".
  • The landscaped setting, particularly tree planting, was regarded as an essential element of Garden City design and layout principles. The landscaping and greenswards of the housing areas became a unifying element and in particular the hedges of the house plots and the trees, shrubs and verges, carefully considered in relation to the highway, gave the whole town a park-like appearance befitting the name of Garden City. Examples already noted such as Broadway and Rushby Mead should be studied as examples where trees predominate over buildings. In the town centre the contrast between street trees and more dominant buildings can also be seen.
  • The detailed analysis of the Rushby Mead housing scheme which follows demonstrates many of the design principles referred to above and this is supplemented by illustrative layouts.

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