A new Borough Design Guide (BDG) to help residents, developers and planners is being recommended for adoption when it goes before the council’s decision-making executive on May 31.
As a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), it will steer all new developments across Wokingham Borough to ensure they are of the highest design standard as well as support the council’s Vision and Core Strategy to, 'retain and enhance the attractiveness of the borough's environment through well-developed development.'
The guide takes full account of public input following eight weeks of consultation on the initial draft, which ended at the beginning of the year.
It has been created to work in tandem with the emerging Managing Development Local Plan, which will be subject to its own public consultation. Through this process it is intended that a number of areas of guidance, such as internal space standards for residential properties, will become council policy. This will add weight when considering applications
"There were a number of very useful consultation responses which have helped the council prepare this final document, and we are extremely grateful for the time and effort residents and groups put into reading the document and contributing to its production," said Cllr David Lee, Leader of Wokingham Borough Council.
"The overall aim is to enhance the quality of developments across the borough and to achieve this we want to make sure applications are of the highest design quality. That means safe, harmonious, inclusive, welcoming, sustainable places that are well-related to their surroundings.
"We are fortunate to have such a varied and attractive borough which it is everyone’s joint duty to protect and, where possible, enhance."
The 112-page guide covers a vast range of information and issues such as the latest planning policy framework, legislation and guidance on parking and internal space standards.
Residents and developers putting together planning applications can use it to research the issues relevant to them. Planning officers and members will then refer to it when deciding them.
Residential, non-residential, streets and spaces, rural and parking are all explained. Local character principles and the design process are also outlined.
Key stages of design preparation and a residential design checklist are also included. Guidance is also included on specific types of proposal, including backland development. The overall message is that design is a major determining issue and must be considered at all stages from initial ideas through to practical completion on site.
Consultation responses suggested small changes to improve clarification in a few sections, such as the use of diagrams or different wording. As expected the residential development section attracted the largest number of comments.
You can see the draft guide, showing the consultation amendments changes, online at: http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/planningcontrol/planning/consultations/currentconsultations/
Once adopted, it will be available on the council’s website. It is mainly intended for use on screen, rather than in print format, as it contains navigation links. However, hard copies will also be available.
The Regional Design Panel in Berkshire will be launched this June by The Kent Architecture Centre, in conjunction with five of the six local authorities in Berkshire. The panel consists of a range of highly qualified and experienced built environment professionals and will independently review and advise on a range of major and/or sensitive development proposals to influence their design, and the help achieve the highest quality scheme.
"For some time I have been conscious of the benefit of such a panel and I am delighted that it is now coming to fruition," Cllr Lee added.