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A

Access

Access is the means of getting to, and through a place.

Access relates to the positioning of the buildings and their entrances and how people can move around inside them. This means that access is about the location of roads or footpaths entering a site and the routes they follow.

Good access allows everyone to move around comfortably and with relative ease. It does not segregate people because they use a wheelchair, or cannot see, or have a broken leg. It caters for the appropriate amount of traffic and vehicle types for the site and land use, balancing the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Access

When considering whether the access to a place is appropriate, you need to ask:

1. How will people be able to get to and move around the place?

2. Are these arrangements appropriate and will they respect desire lines and the number of people using the place?

3. Will they be easy to maintain?

4. Are the streets pedestrian, wheelchair, buggy, cycle and vehicle-friendly for all users?

5. Does the design ensure an appropriate level of safety for all users?

6. Is car parking well integrated so it supports the street scene, or do roads and parking spaces dominate too much?

7. Is there access to good public transport facilities?

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the design components

Access and inclusion

When assessing a design and access statement with regard to access and inclusion consider:
  • Will all potential users, no matter what their disability, age or sex, be able to enter the site, move around the area, enter the buildings and use the facilities?
  • Will the movement network support convenient, safe and appropriate travel?

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Accessibility

Accessibility to transport refers to how easy it is for people to get to places, including walking to them. If you live in a highly accessible place you can reach other places and activities quickly and easily - whereas if you live in an inaccessible place, you can reach fewer places in the same amount of time.

Accessibility isn't just about proximity to a location, it's about practicality too. For example, parents are more likely to allow children to walk on well-lit, low-traffic streets than along the side of a busy road - and so any measures of accessibility need to take things like this into account.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Adaptability

Cities, towns, neighbourhoods, villages and streets are continually changing. People move in, people move out; shops open and close; new developments arrive and older developments have to adapt to changing market pressures. As a result, well designed places are those that can be flexible and adaptable to change - supporting rather than restricting the ebb and flow of our societies.

Getting the structure of places right is really important to how they can adapt. The roads and public spaces are often the hardest to change later on, mainly because of the way land is owned. So we need a network of streets and spaces that can work as times change. Like the Georgian square, which was never designed for the car, but can accommodate parking around its edge very well.

Click here to access our lesson on Recognising the qualities of good places

Amount

Is it possible to tell from the information given how appropriate the amount of the development is? ‘Habitable rooms per hectare’ or ‘dwellings per hectare’ can show very different things, and neither can usefully explain mixed-use or neighbourhood development.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Amount

The amount or extent of development relates to the quantity of buildings or spaces on a site.

Amount is useful if you need to judge a proposal against set figures like the number of new homes needed. It can also help when considering how many windows to order for a project, for example.

Absolute figures are needed so you can install the correct items in the right place and so you can work out budgets. The amount here might say 100 two-bedroom flats, with four windows each. This tells you how many windows there are in the building and how many rooms, flats and so on are in the block.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Amount

When considering whether the amount of development is appropriate, you need to ask:

1. How much will be built?

2. How intensively will it be used?

3. Is this right for the area?

4. Is the design efficient – that is, does it use all land properly or does it waste land/space?

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the design components

Animated video fly through

Animated video fly throughs should provide:
  • sequence of computer-generated 3D model views
  • constantly moving to navigate the viewer along a selected flight path
  • can navigate at varying heights above or within the scheme
  • This gives the viewer a very interactive experience.

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images

Appearance

When assessing a design and access statement with regard to Appearance consider:
  • Will the appearance support local character and distinctiveness?
  • Will changes to the place affect its long-term appearance?

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Appearance

Appearance is created by the combination of all elements, such as layout, scale and landscaping. It is also greatly influenced by the choice of materials and detailing used.

What a place will look like is often mistakenly understood to mean its design. This in turn is often wrongly read to mean architectural style. Materials and architectural detailing are very important to how a place will look. But appearance is really the visual representation of all the decisions that went into the design. So layout, scale and landscaping will all affect what a place looks like. We can use the same basic materials, street furniture and things in different places and they can end up looking unique. Similarly deciding to paint all street furniture blue, red or black will not really affect the overall appearance of the place.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Appearance

When considering whether the appearance of a place is well-designed, you need to ask:

1. What will the place look like?

2. Will it look good?

3. How will this relate to the area?

4. Does the scheme feel like a place with a distinctive character?

5. Is the design specific to the scheme – was it designed for this place?

6. Do buildings and spaces exhibit architectural and design quality?

7. Will the appearance be maintained?

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the design components

Application boundaries

Application boundaries and land ownerships need to be identified very clearly for a multitude of reasons. It is the first step in knowing where proposals sit in relation to other buildings and land ownerships. There are also legal obligations and responsibilities to the land that is being proposed for development. So accuracy and clarity are paramount.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

Artistic images

Artistic images are impressions of how a proposed design might look and feel. They can be hand-drawn, computer-generated or physically made to scale.

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images

Assess

Start by learning about the site and the context for your design. Remember context means not only the physical surroundings, but also what local people and agencies want to see happen, what is going to be commercially viable and what policies say you must achieve.

Click here to access our lesson on Design process

Assessing highways schemes

Standard formats for assessing and presenting an evaluation can be useful in assisting highway professionals and designers explain why they feel a scheme is good or bad. For many years road safety audits where used (done by separate assessors) and the reports helped inform approval and funding decisions. Road safety audits can be very useful, but they are only as good as the information given to the assessor and do not generally provide a single, watertight answer.

Click here to access our lesson on Making balanced decisions about highways schemes

Assessing the design components

Thinking about the individual components of a design can help you to assess the quality of a scheme. A good way to do this is by asking questions about each of the individual components: how do they work, do they fit in, what are they for?

The components you need to consider are divided into eight categories.
  • access
  • amount
  • appearance
  • landscape
  • materials
  • scale
  • use

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the design components

Assessing the quality of a place

When presented with a scheme, it's important to be able to think objectively about how good the place will be. To do this you need to think about the following questions:

1. Is it designed to fit well with its surroundings? Does the scheme exploit existing buildings, landscape or topography?

2. Will it meet the requirements and aspirations of present and future users?

3. Does the scheme respect the historic environment (it should maintain or enhance existing historic elements/environments)?

4. Will it create a place everyone, regardless of physical or other abilities, can access and use easily?

5. Will the scheme ensure optimum resource efficiency (in terms of energy, water and land)?

6. Will it create a healthy and safe place to be in (no undue risk of accidents, comfortable temperatures, protection from flooding, opportunities for fresh air, exercise, peace and relaxation)?

7. Will the scheme enable travel, reducing congestion and accidents?

8. Will the place be maintained to a high standard, and will it continue to be somewhere people will value, appreciate and use?

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the quality of a place

Axonometric

Information that should be provided on an Axonometric image include:

  • building massing (so how big the buildings are, how wide, deep and high - their 'mass')
  • building heights
  • indicative built form (an indication of what MIGHT be built, shown for illustration)
  • overall 3-dimensional character of proposals rather than detail
  • The image can be measured from, as it doesn't use perspective.
  • easy to draw up

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images

B

Balancing streets

We should be designing and managing our streets to support least energy hungry modes of travelling. In other words more walking, cycling, bus and train use, and less cars, please. We should also recognise that many streets play a role as outside living and community spaces, they are not just used for movement.

Click here to access our lesson on Streets and the movement network

Balancing your assessment

What happens when you find a scheme is good in some ways but bad in others? This happens all the time as designers look to meet potentially competing objectives.

For example, we used to think cul de sacs were successful because they offered a lot of security – nobody went into them who was not going to one of the buildings they served, everyone could see who was coming and going and so on. BUT, the safety in the middle of the cul de sac was at the expense of dead and unsafe areas around its outside.

Click here to access our lesson on Balancing your assessment

Building control regulation

In 1666 a small shop in Pudding Lane, London caught fire and so began The Great Fire of London. The fire spread very quickly through the tightly packed timber buildings.

In 1667, in the aftermath of the fire, the first legislation to control building construction was born, requiring all buildings to incorporate fire resistance.

Click here to access our lesson on Building control regulation

Building for Life

Building for Life provides assessment criteria in the form of a series of questions. These questions relate to big housing schemes only and are grouped into four sets (each containing five questions):
  • environment and community
  • character
  • streets, parking and pedestrianisation
  • design and construction
Building for Life is a partnership between several national agencies. It is led by CABE and the Home Builders Federation.

Click here to access our lesson on Building for Life

C

Car parking design

In CABE’s housing audits of recently built housing estates, car parking and the affect it has on the environment is the number one gripe of most residents. This is not really surprising - parking takes a lot of space and we want it to be safe, convenient, reliable and available.

At the same time a large part of national policy aimed at reducing car use and carbon emissions has looked to restrict car parking in order to reduce car use; while national sustainable development policies have called for higher densities which tend not to allow space for a lot of parking.

Click here to access our lesson on Design principles for streets

Character

Cities, towns, neighbourhoods, villages, streets - these are the places where people live and work and have their own sense of place and history. Venice, London, New York, Shanghai all have 'personalities' - a feeling that makes residents and visitors alike understand the place and how it operates. Smaller towns, neighbourhoods, individual streets and even single buildings can have their own character and personality too.

Click here to access our lesson on Recognising the qualities of good places

Commissioning design work

CABE’s publication ‘Creating Excellent Buildings, A guide for clients’ sets out 10 key principles which will help clients to achieve an excellent outcome:

  • strong client leadership
  • enough time at the right time
  • learn from other projects
  • develop a clear brief
  • realistic financial commitment
  • adopt integrated processes
  • find the right people for the job
  • respond to context
  • commit to sustainability
  • sign off all key stages

Click here to access our lesson on Commissioning design work

Computer-generated 3D block model

Computer-generated 3D block model should be provide:
  • existing context either through aerial photograph, Ordnance Survey base map, or 3D block model
  • computer-generated block model accurately montaged onto base
  • building massing and storey heights, rather than detailed architecture
  • overview of indicative proposals
  • indicative landscaping scheme
  • clearly defined areas of proposed and existing (when applicable)

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images

Computer-generated 3D detailed model

Computer-generated 3D detailed model should be provide:
  • detailed proposals
  • architectural style, detail and materials
  • hard and soft landscaping
  • water bodies
  • street furniture and lighting
  • shadows
  • reflections
  • people to have sense of scale
  • promotes the vision

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images

Continuity and enclosure

People should be able to 'read' a space easily, to know which spaces are public and open to all and which places are private. This applies as much to those using a space in passing as to those who live, work and play in places.
  • Continuity means the retention of street frontages, shops, houses and so on without large gaps or obtrusive 'out of place' buildings.
  • Enclosure means just what it says - enclosing places so that their use can be easily understood.
The layout of a place is critical to achieving continuity and enclosure, but this quality is also affected by scale, landscaping and appearance.

Click here to access our lesson on Recognising the qualities of good places

Councillors

Councillors have a broad range of duties and responsibilities, which partly depend upon their specific roles within the council’s constitution. Councillors are collectively the ultimate policy-makers, and carry out a number of strategic and corporate management functions.

Click here to access our lesson on Who's responsible for good design?

Crime

Over the years there has been much thought and research given to the way design influences crime and the fear of crime. The police's Secured by Design programme provided both guidance and an award system to support environments that help to reduce crime.

Click here to access our lesson on Social policy objectives

Cycling

Not all cyclists may require the same help when considering street design. There is a distinction between sports cyclists, keen on long distances, children going to school and people who use a bike for short journeys.


Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

D

Demolitions

Demolitions should be identified clearly as buildings, edges and landscaping (for example trees) and so on could be protected.

In some cases demolitions can contradict certain planning policies. It's the job of the assessor to compare the existing and proposed situations, and to ensure the demolitions (if any) are consistently shown on all drawings.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

Density

Density describes not just how many flats or units exist, but how intensively and efficiently land will be used. It is a numerical measure created by dividing the amount of building by the size of the site it sits on.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Design

Now comes the balancing act – you realise you can’t do everything! And make sure the scheme makes a profit too! So what goes, what stays, how do you decide, and how does it affect your design? Negotiation is the name of the game, and optimising good results by coming up with creative ideas of what to put where – that’s designing.

Click here to access our lesson on Design process

Design and access statements

Design and access statements are documents that accompany most planning applications and apply the thinking behind the application. They should show, for example, that the applicant has thought carefully about how everyone (including people with disabilities, the old and the very young), will be able to use the places that the applicant wants to build.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Design and appeals

The applicant has the right to appeal against a planning decision. They may appeal against a refusal to grant planning permission, or against a condition imposed on a permission. Appeals are heard by the Planning Inspectorate, an organisation that reports to the Secretary for State and Minister for Planning.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning process

Design brief

A design brief is the description of what is wanted on a development site in design terms.

Click here to access our lesson on Commissioning design work

Design champions

Appointing design champions can help to focus minds and ensure that design issues, in both urban and rural areas, are placed firmly on the local authority's agenda.

Champions in local authorities at both officer and member level have distinct but complementary roles. The research carried out with design champions from the South East in 20065 confirmed that their overall task is to raise and maintain a high profile for quality design in the built environment within their organisations and localities.

Click here to access our lesson on Who's responsible for good design?

Design codes

By setting patterns or codes for neighbourhoods, you can manage how the place grows organically without being too prescriptive. You set the basics and the designers work within these to create a range of distinctive places that work well together.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Design documents

There are no universally agreed definitions for design documents, and there is a lot of overlap in names and use, particularly with documents that relate to specific areas.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Design mistakes

But things don't always go according to plan! Here are a few common design mistakes people might make:

Click here to access our lesson on Design principles for streets

Design principles for streets

It's vital that you think about the principles for creating successful streets, before you make a decision on works, projects or schemes which will change them.

Click here to access our lesson on Design principles for streets

Design process

People often get confused about whether good design is an outcome or a process. It's both really - you don’t get the good outcome without the good process. It needs a few key things:
  • creativity
  • understanding
  • communication
  • open mindedness
  • adequate financing

Click here to access our lesson on Design process

Design standards for housing

Over the last few years we've seen a huge public policy push to build more homes, and better quality homes and neighbourhoods. Success has been sketchy, with CABE’s housing audits finding that far too many new homes are not well enough designed or constructed.

Click here to access our lesson on Design standards for housing

Discussing design with others

Engagement and consultations are musts in both the planning and highway systems. It makes sense that any designer, developer or provider should talk to the people who will be using places to find out what works, what doesn’t work and what they want.

But the question is: How can we ensure that it helps deliver good design and not just lowest common denominator solutions that appease everyone but inspire no one?

Click here to access our lesson on Discussing design with others

Diversity and choice

"It's not like it used to be" is a cry you often hear as people hark back to times of local post offices, grocers and butchers in each neighbourhood.

But diversity and choice is more than just having different things happening together. A place that is diverse has areas for work and play, opportunities for different types of living and working, mixed communities rich in cultural heritage, and sometimes a wide range of complementary styles. It should have all the ingredients that make up a good neighbourhood and they all should be easy to get to. Of course, if there is lots going on in an area it will probably look pretty diverse and interesting too.

Click here to access our lesson on Recognising the qualities of good places

Drawings pack

A drawings pack is the set of drawings that are required as a minimum for assessment purposes. Without the complete set of drawings, not all of the information required will be shown.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

E

Ease of movement

People generally want to live somewhere that has easy access to shops, workplaces, schools, leisure activities and so on. Of course some people relish the idea of living in 'splendid isolation' but they are in the minority. With jobs to do, children to look after, friends to visit, most people want to have transport and amenities within easy reach. Places should be designed to help people get to where they want and need to go easily and, wherever possible, without having to drive.

Click here to access our lesson on Recognising the qualities of good places

East of England Plan

The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) is the regional planning body for the east of England and has a statutory duty to prepare and implement the Regional Spatial Strategy, known in this region as the East of England Plan. It was published in May 2008, and covers the period 2001 to 2021.

Click here to access our lesson on Regional planning policy

Education

The Government wants parents to have a choice over where their children go to school. In many parts of the country such a choice is non-existent due to demand issues, but despite this, the concept of choice is there.

Click here to access our lesson on Social policy objectives

Elements of the urban realm

Urban design deals with the whole of our urban environment, sometimes called the urban realm. That is, the buildings and spaces that make up towns and cities. Any urban area is made up of different types of spaces and buildings.

Click here to access our lesson on Understanding urban structure

Ensuring you achieve good design

Why good intentions are not enough

"We admire one kind of place … but we constantly build something very different” – Andres Duany

Every time we change part of our environment, even in the smallest way, we have the opportunity to make it better. But often things get in the way of doing what we intended in the first place, or what is best. At the same time we all tend to focus on our own little bit of the bigger picture, it can be really hard to see how our actions can work with, or against those of others.

Click here to access our lesson on Ensuring you achieve good design

Examples and responsibility

How can all these poor examples come about? It is easier to critisise with hindsight than get it right in the first place.

The chances are that they are not any one person’s fault, but there was probably also little or no public engagement or advice from other professionals to inform the decisions that led to them.

Click here to access our lesson on Design principles for streets

Existing and proposed developments

Existing and proposed developments should be identified clearly on drawings. Drawing styles can sometimes merge these two situations closely, making it difficult to assess and compare. The example below has both annotations and graphic treatment to highlight the differences.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

F

Function

Here are some issues to look out for when considering Function:
  • If you want to your street to allow space and time to stop amid a busy town centre, site market stalls and accommodate street entertainers, for example, you will need to design in wide pavements and other considerations. These functions can all attract local residents and visitors and add vitality to the area, but you must design for this type of use, otherwise the street might not work as you want it to.
  • Level access crossing for deliveries helps small shops that don’t have one big supplier, helping to sustain local distinctiveness.
  • Regular cleansing helps reduce anti-social behaviour
  • You may need a range of seats to cater for different age groups (walls with flat tops can be used as occasional seats, but elderly users might prefer benches), but everyone likes an interesting outlook.
  • An outdoor café in a quiet backwater is pleasant place to relax away from traffic, however to be viable it needs to be visible from a busy area and be on a pedestrian route.

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

Funding and decision-making

Funding for our streets and public realm comes primarily from the government. That is, from taxation, though it is allocated through different authorities and under different headings, and for different priorities. Some money also comes from contributions made by developers, paying for new streets or improvements to existing ones.

Click here to access our lesson on Making balanced decisions about highways schemes

G

Gateways, landmarks and icons

Gateways, landmarks and icons are urban design terms used to describe major parts of any urban structure. They can all have a considerable impact on the character of a place.

Click here to access our lesson on Understanding urban structure

Good practice

For drawings, plans and graphics that are measurable, the following should always be provided:

  • key
  • title block
  • north point
  • scale bar and written scale (sucn as 1:50)

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

Guidance

Legislation (like The Highways Act 1980) has to be complied with. However, the legislation doesn’t go into detail in terms of design – for example it might state the materials that a sign should be made of or what it means, but not when one should or should not be used.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

Guidance

Legislation (like The Highways Act 1980) has to be complied with. However, the legislation doesn’t go into detail in terms of design – for example it might state the materials that a sign should be made of or what it means, but not when one should or should not be used.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

H

Hand-drawn aerial perspective

Hand-drawn aerial perspective shows an imaginary view from the air. The information that it should contain includes:

  • overview of indicative proposals
  • built form and open spaces
  • character of buildings rather than detailed architecture
  • indicative landscape proposals

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images

Hand-drawn eye-level perspective

Hand-drawn eye-level perspective provide:
  • general character
  • indicative building form without detail
  • a sense of scale between people and buildings

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images

Health

Today public policy talks a lot about preventing illnesses associated with obesity, sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. There is also a large focus on dealing with mental health problems. Organisations such as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recognise that our built environment can play an important part in improving our overall health and wellbeing.

Click here to access our lesson on Social policy objectives

Heritage protection and management

There's been a longstanding alliance between historic conservation and design policies.

In many local authorities, for example, the main design post (often based in the planning department) is also the conservation post. But there are also sometimes perceived tensions between the agendas, and sometimes actual tension (for example when tall building designs are assessed). In reality these tensions tend to come down to how decision-makers balance heritage and other objectives.

Click here to access our lesson on Heritage protection and management

How the elements fit together

Now we are going to look at how some of the elements fit together to influence how the place works.

These relationships are really important to urban design. They create concepts and forms that underpin our thinking about how to design and manage urban areas.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

I

Inclusion

Public policies call for inclusive access. This means everyone, regardless of age, physical ability, social background and so on, should be able to get to and use places and the services within them, conveniently and with dignity. It relates to the requirements of The Disability Discrimination Act but inclusion should go a lot further than this.

Click here to access our lesson on Social policy objectives

Inclusive access

Thinking used to focus on the physical conditions of individuals and access for those with disabilities. This 'medical model of disability' took the perspective that the person has the problem and ‘disabled’ themselves because of their situation. Today however inclusive access is thought of rather differently, using a social model which turns things around and says that it is not the person who has disabled him or her self, it is the environment which disables them because it does not meet their needs.

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

Individual elements (The)

Places, like most things, are made up of lots of different elements or component parts. These vary in size and permanency – for example a river running through a town is a large and lasting part of the structure (and is not going to vanish!), but shop name boards in the high street are small features that might change every year or so.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Involve and evaluate

Involve
Talk to people about what they think the local context is. Include as many people who might have an interest as is practical, from the local planning officer to community groups to people who can advice you on natural habitats and flooding risk in the area.

Evaluate

So you've gathered lots of information. In some ways, that’s the easy bit! Now you have to evaluate what you have found out and use that information to inform your design.

Click here to access our lesson on Design process

J

Junction design

Junctions tend to be where commercial or community activities and services cluster because people who have been travelling on different routes meet here. Think of the corner shop or the convenient meeting point.

Click here to access our lesson on Design principles for streets

Junctions and interchanges

Junctions, where two or more roads meet, are where lots of the action takes place. They tend to be where commercial or community activities and services cluster because people who have been travelling on different routes meet here. Think of the corner shop or the convenient meeting point.

Click here to access our lesson on Streets and the movement network

K

Kensington High Street case study

Strong leadership can influence design decisions. This case study shows how.

Click here to access our lesson on Who's responsible for good design?

L

Land use and movement

The spaces we use to move around have to connect with the places we want to get to. So our towns and cities have to include a network of roads, streets, footpaths as well as buildings, parks and so on. To work well the two have to mesh seamlessly, and the places we need to use most must be easy to get to.

Land can only be used if people can travel to it. So the type and location of movement networks dictate to a considerable extent what happens in a place.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Landscape

When assessing a design and access statement with regard to landscape consider:
  • Has landscape design been considered throughout the design process?
  • Will the place support biodiversity and environmentally friendly drainage?

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Landscape

When considering whether the landscape of a place is well-designed, you need to ask:

1. How will the place be hard and/or soft landscaped?

2. Is this appropriate for how spaces will be used?

3. Will be help meet objectives like flood prevention or climate control?

4. Will it be maintained?

5. Will there be barriers and obstacles to people moving and using the place?

6. How are levels dealt with? Have the needs of those who can not easily use steps been considered?

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the design components

Landscape on technical drawings

Landscape on technical drawings can be very difficult to assess.

The proposals aren't always accurate, as most of the time these drawings show mature landscapes. In some cases it can take 20 years for the trees to grow to the height that is shown. Establishing whether the correct species are shown is also essential, as different species grow to different shapes and sizes.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

Landscaping

Landscaping is the collective term for the areas outside buildings (from parks and gardens to roads and infrastructure) that contribute to the overall character and utility of a place. Landscape design is the process of deciding on what landscaping to use where.
A building does not stop at its front door - it is part of a wider place and impacts on, and influences the local landscape. So the hard and soft landscaping of any area can improve its character.

Landscaping can have a big effect on how a place performs. Porous materials might be used to help ensure rainwater is soaked up quickly. Tactile surfaces, sounds from water and plants with distinct smells can help to create a sensory garden.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Layout

When assessing a design and access statement with regard to layout consider:
  • Are you clear what the layout will be like?
  • Is the layout accessible?
  • Are spaces fit for purpose?
  • Does the layout use spaces to their best advantage?
  • Will public spaces be safe, overlooked and convenient?

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Layout

The function and appearance of a place is dictated by the way that the individual elements of the place fit together and relate to one another. Layout is influenced by engineering, utility, performance and operational environment - so things like underground servicing equipment, pipes, sewers, the stability of the ground and sub-structure and so on, which can make it harder to build on some parts of a site.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Layout

When considering whether the layout of a place is well-designed, you need to ask:

1. Do the buildings and layout make it easy to find your way around?

2. Does it mesh with its surroundings?

3. Are streets defined by a coherent and well-structured layout?

4. Does it leave unwanted ‘SLOAP’ (space left over after planning)?

5. Are public spaces and routes overlooked and will they feel safe?

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the design components

LDF content

The LDF needs to include a series of policies that:
  • embed design across the LDF hierarchy and beyond to the community strategy
  • treat design as a cross-cutting theme
  • base design policies on an understanding of local context and design processes
  • recognise design is important at all spatial scales
  • ensure design delivers social and sustainable outcomes

Click here to access our lesson on Local planning policy

Legibility

People are comfortable in places if they understand how to use them. Can I walk on the grass? Is that a crossing? Which way is the station?

Signs can help people understand places, but we use lots of other, more subtle clues too.

Sometimes these are the most important ones, like views, paths that follow desire lines (where people want to walk) or how wide and inviting pavements look. If a place needs lots of signs to tell people how to negotiate their way around, its design has probably failed.

Click here to access our lesson on Recognising the qualities of good places

Legislation

The main national legislation relating to traffic, streets and transport is:
  • The Highways Act 1980
  • The Road Traffic Act 1991
  • The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
  • The Transport Act 2000 (Section 144)
  • The Traffic Management Act 2004


Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

Legislation

The main national legislation relating to traffic, streets and transport is:
  • The Highways Act 1980
  • The Road Traffic Act 1991
  • The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
  • The Transport Act 2000 (Section 144)
  • The Traffic Management Act 2004
In addition there is more specific legislation relating to traffic signs, signals, junction design and so on.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

Local considerations

Your project is being created in an existing context and has great power to improve the local environment. You have an opportunity to add value to the neighbourhood by enhancing the physical, economic and social situation surrounding the project and, in doing so, to create a building that itself has greater value over time.

Click here to access our lesson on Commissioning design work

Local planning policy

The Local Development Framework (LDF) is the collective term for a suite of documents that together make up the spatial planning strategy for a local area.

Click here to access our lesson on Local planning policy

London plan (The)

The first RSS produced was the The London Plan prepared by the Greater London Authority and published in 2003.

Click here to access our lesson on Regional planning policy

M

Making an application

Before anyone submits an application they should do a little homework. Understanding the site, the neighbourhood, relevant planning policies, and of course the market and viability of the scheme can help ensure the application is realistic and relevant.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning process

Making balanced decisions about highways schemes

Reaching a balanced decision about streets projects means thinking about a range of issues including:
  • funding systems and opportunities
  • understanding your area as it exists; its qualities, how people use it and how it could be improved
  • considering if the project proposal is appropriate and well designed
This means considering both the quality of the existing area AND the qualities of the proposal. Assessing the existing area will help to show where improvements are needed and justify funding. Assessing the proposal and its likely outcomes should inform decisions to go ahead or alter its design.

Click here to access our lesson on Making balanced decisions about highways schemes

Making decisions

Local planning authorities aim to decide applications within either eight or 13 weeks depending on how complex they are. During this time they will consult with neighbours and statutory organisations (like the Environment Agency if there is a risk of flooding in the area).

Click here to access our lesson on Planning process

Managing design projects

A successful project needs a strong individual who provides leadership and is supported by a good team. Strong leadership is about vision, good decision-making and proper communications, all working within a robust and unified project structure.

Click here to access our lesson on Commissioning design work

Masterplans

Masterplans are pretty common at the moment and can be adopted as part of Area Action Plans (AAPs) or Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs). They tend to be more detailed than either frameworks or briefs.

A good masterplan can make a big difference to the long-term success of any area, but they can be time-consuming and expensive to produce. Most are commissioned to be drafted by consultants, either with the local authority or the land owner as client. Their quality relies on a good brief, good project management and a good masterplanning team. Impressive graphics do not necessarily create good masterplans!

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Materials

Materials specification enables us to make judgement on whether the proposals enhance or detract from the local area. It's also a way of ensuring that contractors do not compromise or substitute for alternative materials, unless approved by the planning authority.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

Materials

When considering whether materials have been used appropriately, you need to ask:

1. Do the buildings or spaces meet performance requirements – such as insulation or absorption of runoff?

2. Has the scheme made use of advances in construction or technology that enhance its performance, quality and attractiveness?

3. Have details such as lighting, signage, shelters, seating, window and door details and so on been properly considered – or will they be?

4. Do internal and external spaces allow for adaptation, conversion or extension?

5. Will the scheme be capable of being well maintained? Are arrangements put in place for this?

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the design components

N

National design regulation

Legislation and guidance in the UK requires good urban design, and uses some standard terms to explain design requirements. The aim of the legislation and guidance is to create places that exhibit enough of the qualities of good design to make them work for people, and in the context in which they have been created.

Click here to access the lesson on National design regulation

National planning policy

At the national level, policies are embedded in Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs) and the new-style Planning Policy Statements (PPSs).

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

non-motorised users

Non-motorised forms of transport such as tricycles, peddle cars, roller blades and horses are becoming more popular. In some instances the quality audit might want to comment on how well the scheme will work for more unusual users, for example, if riding stables are near by, are barriers at the side of bridges high enough to protect riders?

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

O

Orientation of drawings and plans

The orientation of drawings and plans should be consistent and labelled with a north point (N).

All too often you find drawings to scale but orientated away from north so they fit on the page. This is fine, so long as the full sets of drawings are orientated the same way. It makes it much easier to compare if the orientation is consistent.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

P

PERS, Pedestrian Environment Review System

PERS is an audit tool, that assesses the walking environment.

Developed by the Transport Research Laboratory, PERS includes:
a reviewer's handbook on how to gather data
a software package that analyses and displays the results of the audit as reports and charts

Click here to access our lesson on Pedestrian Environment Review System, PERS

Persistence

Changing places can be easy or difficult, depending on what part of the structure you are trying to change. It clearly isn't realistic to decide to remove a hill or divert a river, although such mammoth tasks have been undertaken (for example China's work to dam and divert the Yellow river), but altering local junctions or adding new buildings happens frequently.

Click here to access our lesson on How places change over time

Physical 3D model

Information that should be provided on a Physical 3D model include:
  • building massing (so how big the buildings are, how wide, deep and high - their 'mass')
  • building heights
  • differences between proposed and existing parts of the development

Click here to access our lesson on Artistic images

Placecheck

Placecheck is a tool that gets local residents thinking about the places they live in.
Placecheck is a good way of doing a general assessment of a place by asking basic questions to prompt thinking. It can be used to get others involved and engage with communities so their perceptions and aspirations inform your decisions.

Placecheck is simple. There are three basic questions to ask yourself, your colleagues and users. These questions can also be a good test to ask consultants and designers – it will show if they understand the context for their proposals.

Click here to access our lesson on Placecheck

Plan making

An area can stay as it is or it can change. If it changes, planning is there to help ensure this happens in the best possible way. But planning can also influence WHETHER change happens at all. This is normally done through plan making where authorities say where they want development or change to happen, when and how, and what the area should be like afterwards.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning process

Planning policies

Urban design is a part of planning. Together they should ensure that new developments are going to meet local, regional and national priorities.

Planning can be described as the system that nationalised the right to develop land. It is meant to regulate development for the public's good. So it has to balance lots of issues and objectives, from protecting open space to making sure enough affordable homes are built. Good design is one thing planning has to work to achieve.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning policies

Planning process

This lesson will look at the planning process, examining the following areas:
  • Plan making
  • Pre-application discussions
  • Making an application
  • Making decisions
  • Design at appeal

Click here to access our lesson on Planning process

Planning tools

In the UK planning system, planning applications are decided using statutory policy and documents.

A development proposal should normally accord with policy to get permission. The more formally the document has been adopted the more ‘weight’ it has to influence decisions. So design-based guidance and policies included within the adopted or emerging Local Development Framework (LDF) will be more influential than guidance written and published informally by the council.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Plans drawings and images

In planning and urban design, plans, drawings and images are used to help in a number of ways:
  • design process
  • communication
  • promoting, marketing or selling
  • injecting confidence into groups, organisations and individuals
  • assessing and validating
  • building

Click here to access our lesson on What are plans, drawings and images used for

Policy

Current thinking about traffic, streets and transport now focuses on balancing the needs of all road users (no longer giving priority to cars and lorries) and on recognising that streets and roads are more than just conduits for traffic - they are places. This has meant that basic policies around the ‘sustainable communities’ agenda affect street management as much as they impact on the planning system.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

Policy

Current thinking about traffic, streets and transport now focuses on balancing the needs of all road users (no longer giving priority to cars and lorries) and on recognising that streets and roads are more than just conduits for traffic - they are places. This has meant that basic policies around the ‘sustainable communities’ agenda affect street management as much as they impact on the planning system.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

Policy and law for traffic and streets

Many agencies and organisations design, manage and pay for our streets and roads, which could lead to a variety of conflicting approaches. So, the way we fund manage and use our highway network is steered by national policy.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

Policy and law for traffic and streets

Many agencies and organisations design, manage and pay for our streets and roads, which could lead to a variety of conflicting approaches. So, the way we fund manage and use our highway network is steered by national policy.

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

PPG13 Transport

looks at the relationship between transport and land use to deliver community and road safety.

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

PPG15 Planning and the Historic Environment

sets key policies surrounding the preservation and enhancement of historic areas.

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

PPG17 Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation

covers issues around the provision of open space as well as its design and management.

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

PPS1 Delivering Sustainable Development (2005)

establishes the importance of good design and demonstrates that in the modern planning system, design should be at the heart of developing policy and decision-making.

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

PPS12 Local Spatial Planning

replaces PPS12 Local Development Framework and Creating Local Development Frameworks: A Companion guide to PPS12. It sets out the Government's policy on local spatial planning, which plays a central role in the overall task of place shaping and in the delivery of land uses and associated activities.

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

PPS3 Housing

sets out the Government’s objectives for achieving high quality housing. Unlike the previous PPG3, PPS3 makes it clear that issues of design come before issues of land identification, density and market considerations.

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

PPS6: Planning for Town Centres (2005)

promotes high quality and inclusive design in town centres to provide a safe and attractive environment which is also successful in its retail and leisure functions. Well-designed public spaces are an essential component of successful town centres.

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

PPS7 Sustainable Development in Rural Areas

says that development in rural areas should add to local identity and make better places for people to live and work. PPS7 was one of the first in the PPS style. Its key design policy relates to new dwellings in rural areas.

Click here to access our lesson on National planning policy

Pre-application discussions

It is often advisable to open discussions between land owners, investors, public bodies and the planning department before decisions have been made by anyone. This is often called pre-application negotiation or discussions. Many authorities charge for this input, and offer contracts and set time scales and types of information they will offer. For example they may say that they will provide an initial view on what can happen on a site within 14 days of meeting the landowner/prospective applicant.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning process

PTALs Public Transport Accessibility Levels

PTALS measure accessibility by looking at how long it takes to walk from a site to the nearest public transport services.
Accessibility is often looked at using numbers such as Public Transport Accessibility Levels (PTALs). These are often used in London and the South East to take into account the walking time from a site (this may be a new or existing development) to the nearest bus and rail stations and the types of public transport services that can be picked up.

Click here to access our lesson on Public Transport Accessibility Levels (PTALs)

Public realm

Public realm relates to concepts of equality, access for all and shared community resources (communist values?) – it is space that does not belong to anyone but is held and managed in trust for all of us to use. So our public realm consists of:
  • streets, parks and squares
  • the pavements we walk on
  • the carriageway we drive on
  • the beach we play on
  • rivers and river banks
  • and so on
In short the public realm is all areas that people can access freely. This means that it is reliant on layout, access and appearance.

Click here to access our lesson on Recognising the qualities of good places

Q

Quality audits for highways schemes

There are many ways to carry out a quality audit, depending upon local circumstances and the size of the project, but it does ensure that the relevant issues have been considered. Of course there will always be room for interpretation because many views will necessarily be subjective, but this needs to be dealt with through balanced judgements.

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

R

Recognising the qualities of good places

The qualities of successful places are generally accepted to be:
  • character – the identity of a place
  • continuity and enclosure - distinguishing between public and private spaces
  • quality of the public realm – creating lively and pleasant public spaces
  • ease of movement – making places easy to get to and move through
  • legibility - places that are easy to understand
  • adaptability – the ability of a place to change
  • diversity and choice – places that offer a mixture of things to do
  • resource efficiency – making the best use of resources

Click here to access our lesson on Recognising the qualities of good places

Regional planning policy

According to planning law, proposals for new development must be in accordance with the development plan (unless material considerations indicate otherwise) for planning permission to be granted. This means that design policies in regional and local planning policies have significance in the decision-making process. However, if decisions are not based on robust and well-written policies, decisions may be overturned at appeal.

Click here to access our lesson on Regional planning policy

Regulation

The following legislation provides rules that must be followed:

  • The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984
  • Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002


Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

Regulation

The following legislation provides rules that must be followed:
  • The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984
  • Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002

Click here to access our lesson on Policy and law for traffic and streets

Resource efficiency

A place can be designed so it uses lots of resources, or so that it is carbon neutral and has a reduced impact on the environment. Most places fall somewhere between these two extremes.

This is understandable, because designing means balancing many priorities. It is possible to design a home that you can heat from just one light bulb – but it might not exhibit all the other characteristics of good places we are looking for.

Click here to access our lesson on Recognising the qualities of good places

Risk - a responsible approach

Risk must be carefully considered, weighed and dealt with proportionately.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a number of principles relating to 'sensible risk management' in 2006.

Click here to access our lesson on A responsible approach to risk

Road capacity

The capacity or ability of a road to cope with traffic is determined by the size and design of its links and junctions. Decisions are often based on peak hourly flows. Of course travellers don’t always do want we want them to, but in the UK maximum permissible flows are:
  • a two lane dual carriageway should not carry more than 3,000 passenger car units per hour (pcu/h)
  • a motorway should not carry more than 4,500 pcu/h
  • mixed-use roads with junctions (like town high streets) should not carry more than between 1,100 and 1,900 pcu/h

Click here to access our lesson on Streets and the movement network

Road safety

Current thinking suggests that the safety audit procedures should be more integrated with other aspects of design, although at present this is the most formalised part of the audit.

Road safety audits are routinely carried out on highway schemes. The Institution of Highways and Transportation (IHT) produces guidelines which sit alongside the Highways Agency standards set out in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) as the industry standard in the UK. However the procedures set out in DMRB are only a formal requirement for trunk roads.

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

S

Scale

Is it easy to understand the relationship between the scale of the development and its surroundings from the information provided? No-one will see the place at the scale shown on the drawings and computer-based images can often be misleading. It is important to understand how real users will consider sizes.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Scale

Scale means the size of buildings and spaces. It is important to think about whether the sizes are right for the site. This often means thinking about and explaining how the size of new buildings relate to neighbouring developments. Size also affects whether new buildings and spaces will be economically viable.
Any consideration of scale needs to take into account:
  • the height, width and length of buildings
  • the size of spaces in relation to each other and their surroundings
  • the size of parts of a building or its details

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Scale

When considering whether the scale of a place is appropriate, you need to ask:

1. How big are the buildings and/or streets and their parts?

2. Will they feel comfortable for users?

3. Are they a good size for the uses they will have to contain?

4. Is their relationship to their surroundings appropriate?

5. Are crossings, pavements and junctions of an appropriate scale which reflects and respects the use and character of the area?

Click here to access our lesson on Assessing the design components

Scales

Scales are of the utmost importance on technical drawings - without them the assessment stage could not be carried out.

Ensuring each drawing is presented at a conventional scale allows us to verify the proposals. The technical drawings should all be to a measurable scale or they contradict their purpose.

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

Social policy objectives

Design policy can have a positive impact on social issues such as crime, education, health and inclusion:
  • design policy is influenced by a belief that well-designed places can help to reduce crime
  • the design of schools and other educational institutions impacts significantly on the experiences of pupils and students
  • design policy is influenced significantly by concerns about public health
  • design policy embodies principles of inclusion and accessibility


Click here to access our lesson on Social policy objectives

South East plan (The)

The South East Plan was published in May 2009. The Independent Inspectors' Report on the Plan was published in August 2007. The Government published its response to the report and consulted on this during the autumn of 2008.

Click here to access our lesson on Regional planning policy

Space Syntax

Movement and the routes that people take help to define a place’s character – whether as a busy high street or quieter residential area. It influences the viable land uses, property values, social interaction, and crime that occur along streets. Understanding how people move through different spatial layouts and the routes they take, can help to better designed areas that respond to the level of movement within the street.

Click here to access our lesson on Space Syntax

Street design

In real life you should separate designing streets from junctions, so please keep in mind all of the issues here when considering how to design different types of junction.

The Manual for Streets relates primarily to residential environments, but its basic principle, to think about the character of the street and balance the role it has to play as a route and as a place to just be in, is important for all streets.

Click here to access our lesson on Design principles for streets

Street element

Streets are made up of:
  • crossings and traffic lights
  • lighting
  • pavements
  • carriageways and cycle paths
  • signs
  • street furniture
  • trees

Click here to access our lesson on Design principles for streets

Streets and the movement network

If a town or a district is to be economically viable and prosperous, people and goods need to be able to get to and from it easily. The majority of transport takes place on roads (although air and rail are also important).

Road maps give information on the size of each road, where it goes and also what it is intended to be used for. This one shows the roads around the town of Bedford. Each road is colour-coded to indicate its size and type.

Click here to access our lesson on Streets and the movement network

Streetscape manuals

Many local authorities also have streetscape manuals giving details on how the authority will consider and provide a wide range of things (such as lighting columns, seats and CCTV cameras) for the roads it manages. But there are sometimes good reasons for doing things a bit differently - maybe because of the way the area will be used, or because of its distinctive character. Many streetscape manuals include an exemption process where alternative approaches can be proposed, discussed, and if justified agreed.

Click here to access our lesson on Design principles for streets

T

Technical Drawings

Technical drawings are usually presented in two-dimensional form (like maps and plans).

Click here to access our lesson on Technical drawings

Town types

Settlements, villages, towns and cities don't appear out of nowhere. They are responses to the needs of people and the landscape that surrounds them. From these needs and landscapes, each type of town has developed distinctive characteristics which can be seen throughout all layers of the urban structure – from the skeleton through to aspects of form.

Some of the main types of town are:
  • Medieval walled cities
  • Market Towns
  • Seaside towns
  • Blocks and Zone
  • New Towns
  • Garden Cities

Click here to access our lesson on Understanding urban structure

Transport infrastructure

Main transport infrastructure is a major part of the skeleton of a place. Big infrastructure decisions like building new train lines and stations have a significant impact on the neighbourhoods within which they sit, as well as on the larger region. This means that the design, siting and orientation of:
  • airports
  • rail or tube stations
  • roads
and so on are critically important to the overall character of a place.

Click here to access our lesson on Understanding urban structure

U

Understanding the local area affected by your scheme

There are many similarities between understanding places to inform the planning process and understanding them to inform highway works. But as highway schemes tend to focus on the public realm and movement, it is worth focusing on things like:
  • how the local movement network functions
  • the land use pattern and intensity of activity in the area
  • traffic and pedestrian flows
  • microclimate and flooding potential
  • existing or required biodiversity
  • the worries and aspirations of existing and potential highway users
We often use the word ‘context’ to sum up the characteristics, problems, demands and logistics of an existing place. What we really mean when we say context is that we have a feel for the area and know what any changes to its public realm should try to achieve.

Click here to access our lesson on Making balanced decisions about highways schemes

Urban block

An urban block is a parcel of land defined by the things that surround it.Urban blocks are usually defined by streets, but could also be bounded by rivers, railway lines or farmland.

The block is the basic ingredient of good urban areas because:
  • People need to get to buildings – the block allows entrances to be placed on the outward facing edge, facing the street.
  • Most buildings have backs and fronts - the back needs to stay private (garden or service yard), and the front needs to be public (front door or shop front). The block allows all the backs to face and protect each other, hiding noisy, smelly or unsightly activities away from public spaces.
  • The block is an efficient way to use space – it does not leave lots of left over little bits that don't have a use.
  • It optimises access routes – usually providing the shortest routes to lots of places.

Click here to access our lesson on The individual elements

Urban design frameworks

An urban design framework – or development framework - is a document describing and illustrating how design policies and principles should be implemented in an area where there is a need to control, guide or promote change. It should include a two-dimensional vision of future infrastructure requirements.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Urban structure

Places are made up of a series of structural elements that create character, dictate function and facilitate or restrict movement. These elements are:
  • rivers, hills, beaches, forests – the major geographical features that mould places
  • highways, rail lines and roads – the big linking components that join places
  • blocks – one or more buildings that sit together surrounded by streets
  • parks, open spaces and squares – spaces to be used by all
  • streets, footpaths and cycleways – the local routes that help you get around neighbourhoods
  • building parts (like doors, windows and walls) - that create buildings
  • space parts (like paving, street furniture and plants)
  • details (like curb stones or bricks) – the smallest but probably most numerous component
and of course people, otherwise there is no point in creating spaces!

Click here to access our lesson on Understanding urban structure

Use

Does the statement clearly explain how the site fits in with surrounding uses? It is normally the mix of uses in a neighbourhood that is important to creating successful places, not the use on a single site.

Click here to access our lesson on Planning tools

Use

Have you ever thought why some places work and some don’t?

Places that work well usually have similar characteristics, but there is something more going on. Successful places tend to meet a need; they have a purpose, they fulfil a role. These places are cherished and looked after, and they develop and maintain their position over time. This means that people are proud of them and feel affection for them.

These are tough things to achieve and they need more than clever design work. They rely on good planning, community involvement, management and often political will and determination. But behind all this is the need to set out and agree what the space will be used for and the role it should play in the area and community. These roles and uses need to be practical, deliverable and reasonable. If it’s the right role, then the place has a fighting chance to become or remain successful.

Click here to access our lesson on Places with a purpose

Use

When considering whether a place is well-designed for its proposed use, you need to ask:

1. How will the place be used?

2. Are these the right uses for the area? Is there a mix of accommodation that reflects the needs and aspirations of the local community?

3. Does the development provide (or is it close to) community facilities, such as a school, park, play areas, shops, pubs or cafés?

4. Are the right uses in the right places?

5. How will open spaces be used privately and publicly? Are they designed to accommodate these uses?

6. Is there a tenure mix that reflects the needs of the local community?

V

Visual quality

Visual quality assessments will depend upon local circumstances. There are very few absolutes, but the audit should look at how the design respects the character and quality of the area.

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

W

Walking

Pedestrians need to be able to walk easily on the footway, without having to dodge clutter, risk injury from traffic or divert far from preferred routes. This means that walking audits should take into account:
  • the effective width of a pavement,
  • its ease of access for wheel chair users and buggy pushers,
  • the separation of the route from traffic.
  • respect given to desire lines
  • the percentage of the route which is not easy to use
  • the number of obstructions (posts, bins, advertising boards and planters)

Click here to access our lesson on Quality audits for highways schemes

West Midlands plan (The)

Regional policy should require all new housing to meet quality standards, for example the Building for Life standard. This standard sets 20 criteria to ensure new homes and neighbourhoods are well designed. It complements Lifetime Homes Standards and can be managed through self-assessment. The West Midlands Plan was the first draft RSS to incorporate the Building for Life Standard.

Click here to access our lesson on Regional planning policy

Who's responsible for good design?

People bring different priorities and perspectives to a project. If we don’t try to think about everybody’s needs as the design develops we can end up isolating, segregating or retrofitting to try and make the place work.

Click here to access our lesson on Who's responsible for good design?

Working effectively

The most effective decisions are based on thorough knowledge. Best practice examples can act as an inspiration, and as benchmarks to check how well you are doing.

If you have little experience of construction projects, you'll need to rapidly develop a knowledge and understanding of some relevant examples. Looking at buildings and visiting them is a good way to start. Visiting a few places with your design and project teams will help the whole team understand your values.

Click here to access our lesson on Commissioning design work

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