All forms of development should make a positive contribution to the environment and strengthen the character and distinct identity of the area.
Good design is of fundamental importance to the delivery of the Core Strategy, because it will contribute significantly to the acceptance and appreciation of development by local residents and occupiers of buildings. It also has a bearing on the well-being of people.
Woking Borough Council expects the design of buildings to be inclusive and comprehensive, not only looking at aesthetic quality, but also how the development brings various elements together to improve the quality of life of its users and enhance the character of the area. These elements include how development incorporates high quality sustainable construction standards and ensures the functionality of buildings. It is also about how development is accessible by its users and by various transport modes, including service vehicles.
Individual places within the Borough have their own distinctive characters. These have evolved over time, and they are well valued by the local community as part of the heritage of the area. The Council seeks a design solution that enhances the distinctive character of the area without compromising innovation and creativity.
A Character Study has been carried out to provide evidence of the character of the area. This will provide useful information to guide development and inform planning decisions. Furthermore, the Heritage of Woking Study provides additional information.
There have been concerns by local residents about the poor quality of some past developments. The Core Strategy seeks to promote high density development in the main centres of the Borough. The design of the proposed developments will be key to their acceptability by the public, the people who use them, and the character of the area.
Proposals for new development should meet the criteria below:
Create buildings and places that are attractive with their own distinct identity; they should respect and make a positive contribution to the street scene and the character of the area in which they are situated, paying due regard to the scale, height, proportions, building lines, layout, materials and other characteristics of adjoining buildings and land.
Achieve a satisfactory relationship to adjoining properties avoiding significant harmful impact in terms of loss of privacy, daylight or sunlight, or an overbearing effect due to bulk, proximity or outlook.
Be designed in an inclusive way to be accessible to all members of the community, regardless of any disability and to encourage sustainable means of travel.
Incorporate landscaping to enhance the setting of the development, including the retention of any trees of amenity value, and other significant landscape features of merit, and provide for suitable boundary treatment/s.
Protect and where possible enhance biodiversity within new developments (as set out in policy CS7 Biodiversity and Nature Conservation). The Council encourages the incorporation of built-in measures in new construction design. Examples of such measures may include green walls, brown roofs and the installation of bird and bat boxes.
Ensure provision of well designed Suitable Accessible Natural Greenspace, (SANG) where necessary.
Ensure schemes provide appropriate levels of private and public amenity space.
Create a safe and secure environment, where the opportunities for crime are minimised.
Incorporate measures to minimise energy consumption, conserve water resources, use the principles of sustainable construction and provide for renewable energy generation in accordance with policy CS22 Sustainable Construction and CS23 Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Generation.
Incorporate provision for the storage of waste and recyclable materials, and make provision for sustainable drainage systems.
Ensure the building is adaptable to allow scope for changes to be made to meet the needs of the occupier (life time homes and modern business needs).
Different parts of the Borough present different contexts for development, as demonstrated by the Character Study and Conservation Area Appraisals. All forms of development, whether residential or commercial, should have regard to the value of their surroundings.
Good quality construction is an inseparable element of good quality design. Developments will be expected to make use of appropriate materials whether these are local architectural features or more unusual high-performance components.
There is potential to exert a positive social effect through design. The design and function of an environment can help to discourage crime and encourage positive use of public spaces. Areas where there is a mixture of uses or types of homes will ensure a footfall of people, offering natural surveillance and reducing incidents of crime and fear of crime. Quieter areas such as car parks should be overlooked, open spaces and pedestrian routes visible from roads and buildings.
Planning applications must be supported by design and access statements and the Council expects applicants to demonstrate how all the design issues covered in the policy have been addressed in developing a good proposal.
A Design Supplementary Planning Document is being produced to clarify the detailed requirements of this policy.
Monitoring and review
The Council will keep under review the number and reasoning behind planning appeals being allowed contrary to local design and character considerations.
Key evidence base
Character Study, 2010, produced by the Landscape Partnership.
Surrey Design Guide, 2002, published by the Surrey Local Government Association.
Heritage of Woking - An Historic Conservation Compendium, 2000, produced by Woking Borough Council.