Policy RET 9: Environmental improvements, public realm and design in town centres
In line with LPS Policy SE 1 'Design', development proposals in principal town centres and town centres, as defined on the adopted policies map, will be permitted provided they make a positive contribution to their surroundings and reflect the following design principles:
- Character - ensuring that the town centre has its own identity reinforced through new development. Development proposals should:
- deliver high quality contemporary architecture that responds to the existing townscape character in terms of the width, character, massing, proportion, and rhythm of buildings;
- reinforce a sense of place in line with LPS Policy SE 1 'Design';
- integrate with its surroundings through its form, use of materials and landscape elements; and
- create distinctiveness through high quality architecture and detailing of buildings and the public realm.
- High quality public realm - ensuring the town centre has attractive, accessible and vibrant outdoor streets and areas. Development proposals should:
- include areas of attractive, thriving public spaces;
- include areas of green infrastructure;
- use high quality hard and soft landscaping detail to reinforce a sense of place and legibility;
- use a consistent palette of materials, relevant to the locality;
- apply a consistent style of street furniture and signage, avoiding clutter;
- incorporate public art, where possible, including through the design of street furniture and making space for temporary art and performance;
- make creative use of lighting to add drama to the night time townscape, for example, by illuminating landmark buildings, whilst avoiding excessive light glow;
- evidence clear management and servicing regimes to maintain the quality of the public realm; and
- create spaces and routes that optimise safety and the sense of safety.
- Ease of movement - ensuring that the town centre is easy to get to and move around. Development proposals should:
- be permeable and well connected through a network of high quality routes and integrate with existing adjacent streets and public spaces;
- encourage and facilitate active travel and make provision for all forms of transport, giving priority to walking, cycling (including secure and convenient cycle parking) and public transport;
- address the accessibility needs of everyone in the design of buildings, public spaces and routes, especially those with pushchairs, people with disabilities and the elderly so that all users can use the development safely, easily and with dignity; and
- provide servicing arrangements for shops and other uses that do not conflict with shoppers and other town centre users.
- Legibility - ensuring the town centre has a clear image and is easily understood. Development proposals should:
- provide landmarks and gateways through the design, positioning and architectural detailing of buildings;
- make use of public art where possible;
- establish vistas and views aligned to landmarks in and outside individual sites; and
- consider the needs of all members of society in clearly defining the functions of different parts of the town centre, including public and private environments, through the use of appropriate visual cues and signage.
- Diversity and mix of uses - ensuring that development provides a range of uses in the town centre that creates street life and a vibrant daytime and evening economy. Development proposals should:
- have active ground floor uses facing the street and other areas of public realm;
- incorporate a vertical mix of uses in buildings, particularly residential uses over ground floor commercial uses; and
- address amenity issues, particularly where uses active into the later evening and residential uses are located close to one another in line with the requirements of Policy ENV 15 'New development and existing uses'.
- Adaptability - ensuring that the use of buildings can change over time. Development proposals should:
- plan new buildings in perimeter blocks that can accommodate a range of uses;
- ensure appropriate access, servicing and delivery arrangements;
- design buildings and their interior spaces so that they are flexible and can be adapted to new uses over time; and
- give consideration to the practicality of use, safety and lifespan of the building and spaces in the town centre through the use of attractive, robust materials which weather and mature well.
9.40 Good design is at the heart of creating successful places, including town centres. The policy builds on LPS Policy SE 1 'Design' and sets out six principles that all town centre developments should follow. The council wants developers to invest in quality. This includes designing buildings and spaces that create a sense of identity, are adaptable, accessible, inclusive, easily understood, and enhance local character and where the public realm associated with new development positively integrates with that of the wider town centre.
9.41 Town centres play an important role in supporting independent living. This policy seeks to support design principles in making buildings and spaces feel safe, accessible and easily understood by all users of the town centre. The centre should be attractive with a variety of uses and provide for the needs of all and provide a positive experience both during the day and evening. Buildings and spaces should support and provide opportunities for active travel and access to green infrastructure and other public spaces to support wellbeing.
9.42 It is important that the practical and day to day activity of the town centre is considered in the design of buildings and spaces including ensuring that development proposals facilitate appropriate management, delivery and servicing arrangements.
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