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Urban design

Good urban design is essential to produce attractive, high-quality, sustainable places in which people will want to live, work and relax.

It includes the way places work and matters such as community safety, as well as how they look. It concerns the connections between people and places, movement and urban form, nature and the built fabric. The key processes for ensuring successful villages, towns and cities.

The planning system provides the means to encourage good design. The appearance of proposed development and its relationship to its surroundings are relevant to the consideration of a planning application and National Planning Policy Framework, March 2012 makes it clear that local planning authorities should support good and sustainable designs.

Hilingdon Council's adopted Unitary Development Plan (Save Policies, September 2007) and the newly adopted Hillingdon Local Plan Part 1 (formerly the Core Strategy seek to ensure that all new development complements or improves the character and appearance of the area. The Local Supplementary Planning Guidance and Design Guides provide more detailed guidance for residential development.

In addition the council in assessing proposals will take into account the requirements of the Home Energy Conservation Act (1995) and the Council's resultant Home Energy Strategy.

Design principles

Generally, good design should:

  • respect the built form, character and nature of existing buildings on the site and other buildings immediately adjacent and in the surrounding area; this is particularly important in conservation areas
  • respect and be sensitive to natural and physical features, both on and off the site, such as slope and topography, vegetation, biodiversity, habitats, waterways and drainage, wind, sunlight and shade, and local pollutant sources
  • ensure buildings do not overshadow existing/proposed outdoor spaces, amenity areas or existing/approved renewable energy facilities (for further information, refer to Hillingdon Planning Guidance on daylight and sunlight and energy and onsite renewable facilities)
  • ensure developments do not overlook the windows or private garden area of another dwelling to an unreasonable degree
  • consider views, vistas and aspects, both local and London wide, and particularly where the site is within a recognised strategic viewing corridor (as shown on the UDP Proposal Map [623KB])
  • consider the degree of openness and/or verdant views provided by gap sites
  • provide visual interest for onlookers, from all aspects and distances, involving attention to both form and detail
  • incorporate external facilities such as renewable energy installations, access ramps, plant and machinery, waste storage facilities and shading devices into the design giving careful consideration so that the feature makes a positive contribution to the built environment

Access and safety

In addition, good design should also:

  • consider connectivity to, from and around the site for people using all modes of transport, including pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, those with visual impairments, people with pushchairs, and motorised vehicles
  • highlight the access points of the site and the building and make a clear distinction between accesses for different uses and also for different types of access eg bicycle, pedestrian, wheelchair and vehicular access
  • ensure that footways and the entrances of buildings should have level access to increase accessibility for all
  • avoid recessed doorways, basement light wells and other unnecessary recesses and dead-end spaces (refer to Hillingdon Planning Guidance on designing safer environments)
  • situate buildings to provide clear views of public and communal spaces from public vantage points, such as roads, footpaths and open spaces
  • seek to ensure that all entrances and access ways, communal waste and recycling facilities, external storage areas and other outdoor communal areas are directly overlooked by at least two habitable rooms of residential development or two frequently used rooms in non-residential development (one of the overlooking rooms can be situated in adjacent development)


The design of any new development should:

  • make a clear distinction between private, semi private and public spaces, and between private spaces intended for different users and different parts of the development
  • take into account the proposed use, and the needs of the expected occupants of the buildings and other users of the site and development
  • where a proposal includes a development that creates a landmark or visual statement, particular care must be taken to ensure that such a development is sensitively designed.
  • the above will be especially important where the development is likely to impact upon a conservation area or listed building

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 21 Feb 2019 at 14:11