Context and reasoned justification
It is anticipated that at least 400 new homes (in addition to those already given planning permission) will be required over the life of the Plan. The vision for Haslemere is that the settlement continues to feel like a compact market town with an intimate atmosphere that caters for residents at all stages of their lives and retains its close integration with the surrounding natural environment. This means new housing developments must adopt sympathetic designs and sustainable design practices which protect and enrich the green spaces and natural environment. Haslemere is fortunate to have important vistas into, within and outside the town. Many comprise undulating tree-covered hillocks which conceal much of the development within the area.
There is already a rich variety of architectural styles in the Plan area and any new development should contribute to this variety while being sympathetic to the existing character of this part of Surrey. The Haslemere Design Statement includes Design and Architectural Design Guidelines, Local Vernacular Design Guidelines and eight sets of Design Guidelines each relating to a specific area of the town. In addition to these locally developed guidelines, we wish to ensure that developers pay due regard to current relevant national design guidance, codes, standards, toolkits, award schemes etc., meeting standards and wherever viable, exceeding them. These standards include: Housing Design Awards, Homes and Communities Agency Affordable Houses Survey, Building in Context, Building for Life 12, Manual for Streets, BRE Home Quality Mark and other relevant BREEAM schemes (ref Evidence list page 68 and Glossary page 62).
These policies are not designed to restrict development by imposing a requirement that all design must mimic one or other existing styles. Instead, they are intended to challenge developers to propose high quality design that responds to its immediate surroundings and is appropriate for the Haslemere Neighbourhood Plan area. Contemporary designs are welcomed; however, they should be of a high standard, add interest and character to the street scene and, where possible, enhance adjacent properties.
Building for Life is the industry standard for the design of new housing developments. It contains guidance on: Integrating into the Neighbourhood; Creating a Place; and Street and Home. The standards promote our vision of a community with a distinctive local tradition, which encourages people to socialise and walk or cycle for many of their everyday needs, rather than always using the car. Over 80% of those consulted agreed that the Plan should require new builds to adhere to the Building for Life quality standards.
The Accessible Natural Green Space Standard, developed by Natural England, recommends that everyone, wherever they live, should have accessible natural green space:
- of at least 2 hectares in size, no more than 300 metres (5 minutes’ walk) from home
- at least one accessible 20-hectare site within 2 kilometres of home
- one accessible 100-hectare site within 5 kilometres of home and
- one accessible 500-hectare site within 10 kilometres of home plus
- a minimum of one hectare of statutory Local Nature Reserves per 1000 population
Evidence shows that access to natural green space for fresh air, exercise and quiet contemplation benefits our physical and mental health. In addition to their potential ecological value, green spaces also help us adapt to changes in climate through their role in reducing the risk of flooding and by cooling the local environment.
The policy seeks to ensure that new homes are well integrated within the town and the surrounding area. The Haslemere Design Statement is a material consideration for any developments within the Neighbourhood Plan area and the Plan reiterates the importance of following these guidelines and intends that no development will be approved that does not have full regard to the requirements of ‘High Quality Design’. In addition, the policy seeks to ensure appropriate open space in new developments and the linking of existing open spaces to create a connected network of spaces.
H7.1 All new development must comply with the Haslemere Design Statement and planning applications should demonstrate good quality design and respect the character and appearance of the surrounding area by:
- screening developments from the road using earthworks, native species green hedging and/or trees for highway boundaries wherever possible and where these are in keeping with the existing streetscape
- having adequate onsite refuse and recycling storage while minimising its visual impact
- ensuring surface drainage solutions that delay or prevent surface rainwater egress from the site
- adopting housing layouts that follow the design guidance for achieving good pedestrian environments as set out in the Haslemere Design Statement (Transport and Access Design Guidelines)
- adopting the Haslemere Design Statement (Natural Environment Design Guidelines)
- recognising the scarcity of land within the area’s settlement boundaries and fulfilling the intentions, regarding density, of Policy H 1.5, while avoiding over-development of the plot in relation to the characteristics of neighbouring plots in respect of built form, massing and the building line
- protecting the residential amenity of neighbours
- integrating with the existing settlement
H7.2 All new developments of 10 or more housing units should provide additional public green space which contributes towards meeting the Accessible Natural Green Space Standard, that is connected to other open spaces within the town via safe pedestrian/cycle access.
H7.3 Developers should demonstrate how their development accords with the principles of the Building for Life Standards no. 6 Working with the Site and its Context and no. 11 Public and Private Space (or any successor scheme), to help deliver Haslemere’s vision to remain an attractive, functional, and sustainable place to live, as it grows.