Attractive and lively buildings, streets, parks and neighbourhoods, especially those with a mixture of compatible uses and historic character, all contribute to making the area a special place which is a pleasure to live in. The quality of our surroundings is also now recognised as a vital factor in attracting and retaining businesses, employers and tourists.
Current government policy asks developers 'to think imaginatively in future as to how proposals can incorporate mixed land uses, to produce lively and successful developments and provide a positive contribution to the quality of our towns and cities'.
The area does have some historic buildings, so it is important that we should preserve and enhance our architectural heritage. It is also vital that we strive to improve the quality of design of new development and avoid some of the mistakes of the past.
Design of new development
Good design should be the aim of all involved in the development process, but it is primarily the responsibility of designers and their clients. Nevertheless, the appearance of proposed development and its relationship to its surroundings are material considerations in determining planning applications.
But just what is good design and is there more to it than personal taste?
Good design is concerned with all the practical aspects of building design; soundness of construction, energy conservation, drainage, access, car parking, daylight and over-shadowing for instance, as well as quality of appearance. But well designed buildings can enrich our surroundings and cultural life.
Good design is about quality more than style and taste. Our philosophy is that new development should meet all the necessary practical design considerations, that it should not damage the environment, and that it should respect its surroundings. In Conservation Areas and the older parts of town this will normally point towards a more 'traditional' approach, not necessarily slavishly copying the past but complementing it, with the use of traditional forms and materials. In other locations, such as business parks or free-standing sites, imaginative modern designs which make a 'statement' are positively welcomed. In all locations, however, the intrinsic 'quality' of the design will be the chief benchmark.
'Urban Design' means the design of groups of buildings and the spaces between them, streets and whole areas. Urban Design transcends arguments about the architectural style of individual buildings and focuses instead on our total surroundings. The way to promote good urban design is through provision of a clear design policy and by fostering quality in the design of public buildings and spaces.
The Council encourages public art as an integral part of new development or refurbishments. Public art enriches our surroundings, symbolises community identity and adds value to developments.