Chapter 1 Sowing the Seed

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  SOWING THE SEED 01 1.1  URBAN DESIGN POLICY  1.2   URBAN DESIGN FRAMEWORKS 1.3  SUSTAINABLE DESIGN 1.4  CHARACTER AND IDENTITY  1.5  ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY  Urban design is now embedded in UK national planning policy. The challenge is to interpret and apply this policy at the local level. Design policy is an essential tool for making sustainable places.Some outstanding projects are brought about through the efforts of a handful of people in the public, private or voluntary sectors. But neighbourhoods, towns and cities that achieve long-term improvements do so because they have political leadership, appropriate policies and a sustained determination to raise standards. Their authorities look to the long-term view. They demonstrate a commitment to urban design, understanding what is special about the town or region which needs to be cherished.Good urban design requires political will, leadership, appropriate policies and a sustained determination  to raise standards. It also requires a long-term view, typically over a generation. Effective policies need to provide support for urban design at every level, from the strategic to the local.Those determining planning applications must be given the confidence and skills  to evaluate proposals and demand quality.  SOWING THE SEED 17 1.1URBAN DESIGN POLICY  1.1.1 Good planning is good urban design1.1.2 Writing design policies1.1.3 Achieving integration1.1.4 Beyond policy Well-conceived urban design policy is essential if the planning process is to raise design standards. Effective local authority action depends on strategic planning policy, local policy and urban design guidance, prepared and implemented by a strongly motivated and coordinated team of officers and members with the necessary resources and support. Long-term commitment to maintaining high standards dependson political support for urban design policy.Urban design policy is concerned with more than just the architectural quality of development. It helps to shape the place as a whole, and all its economic, social and environmental impacts. To bring about fundamental change, urban design policy needs to define a vision which will be realised over a time span – sometimes as long as a generation – and achieved through a series of staged objectives focusing on short-term goals. Coordination and collaborative working between local government departments (planning, transportation, property, etc) is a pre-requisite for successful urban design, which is intrinsically inter-disciplinary. 1.1.1 Good planning is good urban design Incorporate design thinking into strategic policy Planning, urban design and sustainable development are responses to the same challenge: how to make successful places in a responsible way, making the most of what the market can deliver. It is now mandatory, as stated in Planning Policy Statement PPS1 1  and PPS3 2 , for the planning process to incorporate urban design principles (relating to place-making and the physical form of development) at every level, from the strategic to the local.PPS1 notes that: ‘  Good design ensures attractive, usable, durable and adaptable places and is a key element in  achieving sustainable development. Good design is  indivisible from good planning.’ Policy and scale Design policies can relate to a range of scales. Table 1.1 sets out the types of urban design issues that are likely to be most important at each level of planning policy. Together these documents provide the means of implementing policy at every scale and in every sort of circumstance. 1.1.2 Writing design policies Principles and structure Urban design policy should be based on clear analysis of environmental, social and economic issues, and on the local authority’s considered view as to what qualities development should achieve.Design policies should be clear, specific, measurable or testable, and technically feasible. Each policy should provide: first, a design objective and second, an explanation of how a solution might fulfil that objective.  An example of a clear specific policy is the following: ‘Development should incorporate the retention or  provision of important routes and linkages which contribute to the permeability of an area. Development which results in the unacceptable loss of existing links will not be permitted. Design objective: permeability Explanation of criteria for solution:  incorporate or  retain and avoid loss of important routes and linkages.’ 3    URBAN DESIGN COMPENDIUM 2 18 Policy documentStatusPurposeLevel of detailPlanning Policy Statements (PPS) Statutory guidanceEstablishes the link between spatial planning and urban design Regional spatial strategy Sub-regional strategy Statutory document produced by the regional assembly(subject tosustainability audit)Regional spatial coordination of development and regeneration.  A spatial framework to inform the preparation of local development documents, local transport plans and regional and sub-regional strategies, and programmes that have a bearing on land-use activitiesStrategic directions for growth or regeneration; relation to strategic transport; amount of housing and employment, location and physical conceptions of development (for example, city-region, new town or town extension), social and economic roleof development Development plan documents Statutory documents produced by the local authority (subject tosustainability audit)Local spatial coordination of development and regeneration: ‘a long-term spatial vision working towards delivery of the community strategy, setting out its spatial aspects that relate to the development and use of land’ Core strategy Statutory documents produced by the local authority (subject tosustainability audit)Design priorities, fundamental principles and non-development control design policiesInclusion of design policiesCoordination with local transport plans and strategies for the economy, housing, education, health, social inclusion, waste, biodiversity, recycling and environmental protection Specific sites (proposals map) Statutory documents produced by the local authority (subject to sustainability audit)Policies setting out broad design principles for allocated sitesIdentification of specific areas or sitesfor development and regeneration,urban design considerations and implications for the selection of specific sites (most importantly movement) Area action plan (extended area, multiple sites or large singlearea of land) Can combine different kinds of framework produced by or for the local authority (subject to sustainability audit)Sets out physical visions, policies and objectives for specific areas and sites within the local development frameworkMay take the form of an area development framework, urban design framework, generic design code or masterplan, with or without designcodes SPD (covering anything from local authority area to individual sites) Written policy or drawn framework on which is conferred legal status by adoption (may be subject to sustainability audit)Expands policies set out in a development plan document or provides additional detailMay take the form of an area development framework, urban design framework, development brief, masterplan, design code ordesign guide Table 1.1 Urban design content of planning policy documents
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