LPP2: Site Allocations and Development Management Policies

Safeguarding Amenity

2.31  A key consideration when assessing planning applications is the potential to affect those in the vicinity. 'Amenity' is the term used to refer to the effect of a development on visual and aural factors in the immediate vicinity. Factors relevant to the assessment of amenity in all applications include any potential impact on privacy and loss of light, or the creation of an overlooking or overbearing development creating a sense of enclosure.

2.32  The amenity of both existing and future occupants of land and buildings is a material consideration in planning matters. Therefore, the Council consider it important to have a policy outlining the aspects which should be considered. This position is supported by the Council's Residential Extensions SPD (2010).

2.33  Neighbouring extensions can affect the outlook and light provision to a neighbour's habitable rooms. Natural light is an important element in a good quality living environment. The effective use of daylight can reduce the need for electric lighting, while sunlight can contribute towards meeting some of the heating requirements of our homes through passive solar heating.

2.34  It is important that, in accordance with Policy TD1 and LRC1 in Local Plan Part 1, dwellings are designed to meet the needs of future residents, including space for home-working and play space for children. In addition, proposals will need to conform with Policy AHN3 in Local Plan Part 1, in relation to accessibility of buildings and the requirement to meet Building Regulations M4 (2) Category 2 standard.

2.35  Insufficient space in residential properties can have adverse impacts on the health and wellbeing of occupants. In order to ensure that all new housing serves the practical and social needs of occupiers, all new development should adhere to the Government's Technical Housing Standards - the Nationally Described Space Standards (NDSS) of 2015 (and any subsequent changes).

2.36  The NDSS sets out internal space standards for new dwellings across all tenures. However, in accordance with the Written Ministerial Statement of 25 March 2015, internal space standards can only be applied where there is a current relevant development plan policy. Such a policy must be based on an assessment of need and viability and can only require compliance with the NDSS. The Council's Viability Assessment has assumed that the NDSS are adopted.

2.37  As with other forms of open space, private outdoor amenity space can make a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of residents. Private gardens also provide a setting for buildings, space for landscaping and growing vegetables; and help maintain a more natural environment for wildlife and surface water drainage. Gardens also provide an important role as part of wider green infrastructure networks through urban areas.

2.38  The degree of privacy and size of private outdoor amenity space will vary in relation to location and type of accommodation. The Council has some concerns over the amount and quality of outdoor amenity space currently being provided. In order to establish the level and quality of communal space being provided in recent developments, the Council assessed the provision of external space within recently permitted, commenced or completed flatted developments. The conclusions were that 25% of developments did not provide any defensible outdoor amenity space for flats and, of those developments that do include defensible space, only 58% would meet the level considered appropriate, as defined in the proposed Policy below. Therefore Policy DM5 sets out the Council's minimum requirement.

DM5: Safeguarding Amenity
  1. Development should avoid harm to the amenity of future occupants and existing occupants of nearby land, buildings and residences including by way of overlooking, loss of daylight or sunlight, or overbearing appearance.
  2. All proposals for new housing developments should demonstrate that they provide adequate internal and external space in order to ensure an appropriate living environment for future occupiers. To achieve this, developments should:
    1. meet, as a minimum, the DCLG’s Technical Housing Standards – Nationally Described Space Standard (and/or subsequent revisions to this standard) as set out in Appendix I.
    2. Provide an area of external amenity space for each dwelling, that is:
      1. Private
      2. Useable
      3. Secure and defensible
      4. Appropriately located
    3. Where communal amenity space is provided instead of private gardens, 20 square metres per dwelling should normally be provided. Where dwellings are provided with private balconies, 15 square metres of communal amenity space per dwelling should normally be provided. 

Explanatory notes:

2.39  A private outdoor amenity space is one which is not significantly overlooked from the street or other public place. Private balconies on the front elevation of flats may be acceptable if the building is set back from the street onto which they face. If the building is sited on or close to the back edge of the pavement, a balcony on the front elevation, where the activities of the occupants can be observed by passers-by, is not likely to provide acceptable private outdoor space. However, recessed balconies may provide sufficient privacy.

2.40  As a guideline, private balconies should have minimum depth of 1.5m and width of 2m.

2.41  Where an area of private garden is proposed for the exclusive use of a dwelling house, as a guideline, this should be at least 10m in depth and the width of the dwelling. The garden should be of sufficient size to accommodate a storage shed (including a bike store), a small patio area for sitting out, space to facilitate the drying of clothes (rotary or washing line), play space, and shrubs and borders for planting, in order to support the health and wellbeing of the occupants and providing valuable wildlife corridors and habitats.

2.42  In town centre locations, if there is public open space which is readily accessible by foot, there may be justification for less external amenity space, however it is important that private or semi-private space for residents is still provided. Areas such as roof terraces and internal courtyards can contribute to communal space provision.

Local Plan Part 1 parent policies

TD1: Townscape and Design

AHN3: Housing Types and Size

LRC1: Leisure and Recreation Facilities

Monitoring

Indicator:

Comparison of new dwellings against the Nationally Described Space Standards.

Size and suitability of external amenity space provided for new dwellings.

Performance of developments against design audit criteria.

Targets:

All new dwellings meet, as a minimum, the Nationally Described Space Standards.

All new dwellings have appropriate external amenity space.

Development does not cause harm to the amenity of future and existing occupants.