Replacement Dwellings (Guidance for Developers)
Please note that this guidance was produced by the former
Macclesfield Borough Council and therefore relates only to the area
that it previously covered.
There have been recent concerns expressed by members of the
Borough Council that replacement dwellings schemes have often
resulted in adverse impacts to the character of areas. A perceived
problem is that the character of such areas will be cumulatively
detrimentally changed. The corporate policy outlined in this
Guidance Document was approved by the Environment Policy
Development Committee on 9th October 2006.
Perceived Problems with the Current Situation
that restricts the supply of new housing allows replacement
dwellings on a one-for-one basis. Although not all dwellings are
the same size, small and large dwellings are each assessed as a
single residential unit. This has increased the pressure for
redevelopment of small dwellings, located on a comparatively large
It is recognised that the impact of replacement dwellings has
not been experienced consistently across the Borough. Some towns
and villages (e.g. Prestbury, Alderley Edge, Mottram-St-Andrew,
Wilmslow and Mobberley) have been subject to greater pressure for
replacement dwellings than others. High numbers of replacement
dwellings can cumulatively have a significant impact on the
character and appearance of settlements.
However, replacement dwelling proposals can offer the
opportunity to employ innovative design solutions, including
basements, which allow additional floor space to be provided
without necessarily significantly increasing the visible height,
width or mass of the building.
Existing Local Plan Policies
There are already different tiers of policies in the adopted
Macclesfield Borough Local Plan relating to replacement dwellings.
The most restrictive policies relate to listed buildings, then, in
approximate order of severity, locally important buildings,
Conservation Areas, Green Belts, Low-Density Housing Areas and,
finally, dwellings within built-up areas without special
protection. It is more important to protect the fabric of listed
buildings and dwellings within conservation areas than the fabric
of dwellings that are not specifically protected. In all other
cases, it is more important that the impact of the resultant
dwelling on the character of the area is acceptable.
Most policies allow an element of flexibility in the
consideration of applications. Limited exceptions may sometimes be
made if warranted by the characteristics of the site but,
generally, proposals should comply with the policy requirements of
the Local Plan. The criteria for assessing replacement dwellings in
Conservation Areas and Low Density Housing Areas, under policies
BE3 and H12 respectively, are more restrictive than those for
replacement dwellings elsewhere. In all cases, it is important that
a replacement dwelling should be built on the site where the
demolition has taken place.
Communities and Local Government Circular 01/2006
This document contains guidance relating to the requirement for
Design and Access Statements, which must now accompany applications
for certain types of planning permission and consent (including
replacement dwellings). This new requirement came into force on 10
August 2006. The purpose of a Design and Access Statement is to
explain the process that has led to the development proposal and
should cover both the design principles and concepts that have been
applied and explain how issues relating to access to the
development have been handled. Paragraph 62 states:
“The level of detail required in a Design and Access Statement
will depend on the scale and complexity of the application, and the
length of the statement will vary accordingly. Statements must be
proportionate to the complexity of the application, but need not be
The design and access principles that must be considered are:
- The amount of the development proposed (number
of units if residential, otherwise the amount of floor space for
each proposed use).
- The layout – the way in which buildings,
routes and open spaces (both public and private) are provided and
orientated in relation to each other and buildings and spaces
surrounding the development.
- The scale – the height, width and length of
the building in relation to its surroundings.
- Landscaping – the treatment of private and
public spaces through hard and soft landscaping measures and how
the landscaping will be maintained.
- The appearance of the development – the
external built form of the development, its architecture,
materials, decoration, lighting, colour and texture.
- Access – relates only to “access to the
development” and does not extend to internal aspects of individual
buildings. Statements must explain how access arrangements will
ensure that all users will have equal and convenient access to
buildings and spaces and the public transport network.
Of particular importance in the case of replacement dwellings is
the impact that the new building will have on the overall character
of the surrounding area. Paragraph 97 deals with appraising the
context and states:
“A Design and Access Statement must demonstrate the steps taken
to appraise the context of the proposed development. It is
important that an applicant should understand the context in which
their proposal will site, and use this understanding to draw up the
application. To gain a good understanding of context and to use it
appropriately applicants should follow a design process, which
- Assessment of the site’s immediate and wider
context in terms of physical, social and economic characteristics
and relevant planning policies. This may include both a desk survey
and on-site observations and access audit. The extent of the area
to be surveyed will depend on the nature, scale and sensitivity of
- Involvement of both community members and
professionals undertaken or planned. This might include, for
example, consultation with local community and access groups and
planning, building control, conservation, design and access
officers. The statement should indicate how the findings of any
consultation have been taken into account for the proposed
development and how this has affected the proposal.
- Evaluation of the information collected on the
site’s immediate and wider context, identifying opportunities and
constraints and formulating design and access principles for the
development. Evaluation may involve balancing any potentially
conflicting issues that have been identified.
- Design of the scheme using the assessment,
involvement, and evaluation information collected. Understanding a
development’s context is vital to producing good design and
inclusive access and applicants should avoid working
retrospectively, trying to justify a pre-determined design through
subsequent site assessment and evaluation.”
Procedural Changes to Replacement Dwelling Schemes
In accordance with recent legislation, every new planning
application for replacement dwellings on a one-for-one basis must
now include a Design and Access Statement, prior to registration.
Existing policies of the adopted local plan also indicate that the
impact of such schemes upon street scenes and the overall character
of areas will be of particular significance. However, the
Borough Council now requires that, in addition to a Design and
Access Statement, applications for replacement dwellings shall also
include a Visual Impact Assessment prior to registration.
This is an assessment of the existing character and appearance of
the immediate locality, showing how the proposed scheme may be
incorporated into the neighbourhood without resulting in
significant harm being caused to either visual or neighbouring