Ended on the 18th March 2021
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Chapter 3: Homes for a Growing Community

Homes for a Growing Community

3.1 The Spatial Strategy to 2036 seeks to deliver at least 14,988 new homes. This figure includes the amount of housing required to meet local need as determined using the government's standard method (14,274 homes) and an additional 5% allowance (714 homes) to reduce the risk of sites identified in the plan not coming forward as anticipated. The figures that make up this housing target are set out in Figure 3.1.

3.2 The Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (2020) identified 56 sites suitable for residential and mixed-use development that includes new homes. The location of these sites are shown in Figure 3.2. This assessment sets out the number of homes that will come forward. This includes identified sites and also how many homes will come forward on sites that are either: not identified as a site allocation, or come forward with a housing density that is different from the indicative capacities calculated in the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment.

Figure 3.1: Housing figures in the Local Plan

3.3 As part of the housing to be provided to 2036, a windfall allowance of 2,095 units is included. This is based on a combination of three factors including the historical annual average of 70 dwellings per year completed on sites of less than five units; development sites coming forward within the density range identified in the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment, but higher than projected; and unidentified sites larger than five dwellings gaining planning permission. Combined, it is expected that windfall development will contribute, on average, 116 new homes per year.

Figure 3.2 Housing sites in the Local Plan

3.4 The South West Hertfordshire Local Housing Needs Assessment (2020) identified the local authorities of Dacorum Borough Council, Hertsmere Borough Council, St Albans City and District Council, Three Rivers District Council and Watford Borough Council as forming the South West Hertfordshire Housing Market Area. It demonstrates a relationship between housing need and movement between the five authority areas. The Council's all face challenges to meet their housing need, however they have agreed to continue to work together to deliver the housing required across the wider area.

3.5 The delivery of new homes over the plan period is set out in the housing trajectory (Appendix B). This forecasts the anticipated delivery of new homes each year to 2036 and provides a mechanism to evaluate the performance of the Plan. It also highlights when the provision of supporting facilities and infrastructure are required. The housing trajectory will be kept up to date and monitored as part of the Council's Authority Monitoring Report.

3.6 To provide more certainty about when schemes will be coming forward and assist with projecting when other types of supporting development may be required, such as infrastructure, as part of their proposals, applicants are expected to provide a year by year housing trajectory setting out when new homes will be completed.

Strategic Policy HO3.1: Housing Provision

Provision will be made for 14,988 new homes, inclusive of a 5% buffer of 714 homes, in Watford Borough for the period 2018 to 2036. Proposals for residential development will be supported where they contribute positively towards meeting local housing needs and achieving sustainable development.

Residential developments should demonstrate how they will make an optimal use of land and provide a mix of homes including size, tenure and specialist adaptations to support people with different needs to ensure good quality homes are provided for all, both now and in the future.

Housing mix, density and optimising use of land

Design-led schemes and housing density

3.7 The Spatial Strategy sets out an approach to maximise the land available for redevelopment, reduce its impact on the environment through carbon reductions and deliver sustainable development. Housing density provides an indication of how effectively a site is used and its contribution towards meeting housing need. However, it does not provide wider context about efficient use of land, which is more closely related to site-specific opportunities, constraints and sensitivities. Design-led schemes should make efficient and effective use of land by responding to character, existing or intended as appropriate, the opportunities, constraints and sustainability of a particular site and its surroundings.

3.8 Within the Core Development Area higher density development of at least 95 dwellings per hectare is expected. Higher density development will be particularly supported in areas where there is good access to Mass Rapid Transport, such as at Watford Junction. Outside of the Core Development Area, proposals should start with a minimum of 45 dwellings per hectare and be revised up or down, based on the character and attributes of the area. This lower figure reflects the lower sustainability of these areas which have fewer services and facilities compared to the Core Development Area.

Housing mix

3.9 The variety of housing types enable people to live and move within the town at different times in their lives as their needs change. The types of new homes coming forward during the plan period should reflect the needs of local people, present and future, and account for market trends.

3.10 A balance between housing demand and housing need should relate to what is deliverable. This can vary on a site-by-site basis. During the plan period Watford is likely to provide a higher proportion of smaller one-and two-bed properties than other local authorities in the South West Hertfordshire housing market area. This is reflective of Watford's character, which is more intensively built up, has a higher population density and better access to public transport, which makes it a more sustainable location compared to its neighbours. Over the plan period the mix of housing types may need to be rebalanced across the housing market area to ensure an appropriate amount of family housing is provided.

3.11 The Local Housing Needs Assessment suggests that a high proportion of demand for new homes will be generated by households with one and two dependent children. Providing a mix of homes of different sizes is therefore important to support a balanced community and ensure that housing demand and housing need are both met through new development. Therefore, proposals for residential development will be expected to provide a housing mix that includes a proportion of family-sized homes with three or more bedrooms.

3.12 Proposals with a residential element are to provide a Housing Schedule. This should set out the total number of units; type and tenure of units; the number of habitable rooms and floorspace for the different elements of the market; and affordable and specialist housing, provided as appropriate. In conjunction with this, a housing trajectory setting out the anticipated annual completions should be provided as part of a planning application.

Policy HO3.2: Housing Mix, Density and Optimising Use of Land

Housing mix

Proposals for new residential development will be supported where they make provision for at least 20% of the total number of residential units to be family-sized (at least three+ bedrooms).

Housing density and optimising land

Residential developments should seek to optimise the density of sites through a design-led approach, taking account of the context and sustainability of a site, focusing higher density development within the Core Development Area. Within it, new residential developments should seek to deliver a minimum density of at least 95 dwellings per hectare. Outside of the Core Development Area, new residential developments are expected to achieve at least 45 dwellings per hectare, but the optimal density for individual sites should be established through careful consideration of local character, context and access to amenities and public transport.

Protecting existing housing stock

If a net loss of residential accommodation is proposed, applicants will be required to demonstrate how the benefit of the scheme outweighs this loss.

Affordable housing

The need for affordable housing

3.13 Affordable housing can refer to rented or sales properties and is defined by the National Planning Framework. Definitions of affordable housing are set out in Annex 2 of the National Planning Policy Framework. To best reflect affordable housing as a proportion of the total number of homes completed on a site, the requirement will be based on habitable rooms, with supporting information to be provided by an applicant including the number of units, floorspace and bed spaces as part of the housing schedule. Applicants are encouraged to partake in pre-application discussions to determine the affordable housing mix early in the planning process.

Type and size of affordable housing

3.14 The National Planning Policy Framework requires new development to provide different types of affordable housing, including shared-ownership products on qualifying sites in conjunction with other affordable housing products, such as social and affordable rent. The level of provision required has been determined through a viability assessment of the Local Plan to ensure sites are deliverable.

3.15 Social rented housing provides homes for those who need it most and cannot access the property market. To prioritise this need, at least 60% of affordable housing provided on qualifying needs should be social rent, with the remaining made up of other tenures, such as affordable rent and discounted home ownership products. Social rented units are in greatest demand, but are the costliest to deliver. In some circumstances it may be preferable for a proposal to include a greater number of social rented properties, which would reduce the total number of affordable units. Where this is agreed with the Local Planning Authority, the applicant will be required to demonstrate how the provision is of equivalent value to meeting the affordable housing requirements set out in Policy HO3.3 'Affordable Housing'.

3.16 The type and quality of an affordable home to meet the needs of local people is often reflected in the size of the units provided. New homes can have bedrooms designed for one-bed space (single bed) or two-bed spaces (double bed or twin beds). Unit sizes are commonly expressed in terms of the number of beds and persons. The Council's preference generally being for larger bedrooms which are more reflective of local need. The types of units in terms of bedroom and bed spaces should reflect the needs set out in the Council's Housing Strategy.

Deliverability

3.17 Where delivery of 35% affordable housing on site is not possible and a reduced requirement is agreed with the Local Planning Authority at the time of planning consent, permissions will be subject to a late-stage review to determine if the scheme could deliver affordable housing more akin to the full policy requirement of 35%.

Policy HO3.3: Affordable Housing

Residential developments, including residential institutions of ten homes or more will be supported where they provide at least 35% affordable housing (by habitable room).

Proposals will be required to provide a mix of affordable housing tenures, including a minimum of 60% of new affordable homes as homes for social rent. The homes for social rent should seek to prioritise family-sized (three+ bedrooms) accommodation and reflect the most up-to-date housing strategy.

Affordable housing should be provided on site. The Council will not support provision in lieu through commuted sums, other than in exceptional circumstances where it can be clearly demonstrated that it is not feasible to provide affordable housing on site.

Affordable housing is to be fully integrated in the development and to be designed and built to the same standard as market housing.

In exceptional circumstances, where it is demonstrated that it would not be viable to meet the affordable housing requirements set out in this policy, a late-stage review mechanism, which is triggered when 75% of the units in a scheme are sold or let (or a period agreed by the Local Planning Authority) will be required. Where it is demonstrated the number of affordable units achievable on site is higher than agreed, up to 35%, the applicant will be required to provide the additional units to the Local Authority or Registered Housing Provider upon completion of the development.

Build to Rent

Build to Rent proposals

3.18 The National Planning Policy Framework defines Build to Rent as 'purpose-built housing that is typically 100% rented out.' Additionally, the South West Hertfordshire Local Housing Needs Assessment states that 'it can form part of a wider multi-tenure development comprising either flats or houses, but should be on the same site and / or contiguous with the main development. Schemes are usually of a large scale in terms of the number of residential units and offer longer tenancy agreements of three years or more, and will typically be professionally managed stock in single ownership and management control'

Discounted market rent and affordable housing

3.19 Build to Rent schemes will be required to provide affordable housing based on the criteria set out in Policy HO3.3 'Affordable Housing'. Where a developer is proposing a Build to Rent scheme that requires affordable housing to be provided, the affordable housing offer may be entirely Discounted Market Rent, if agreed with the Local Planning Authority. Discounted Market Rent units should be fully integrated into the development, with no differences between these units and the market units, tenure blind.

3.20 The discount on the market rent should be provided in line with the findings of the Local Housing Needs Assessment. It identified that for a person or family to afford a home in Watford, a discount of between 26-34% would need to be applied to market rents, with the variation reflecting different sizes of homes. This level of discount reflects a local approach to meeting the needs of local residents who cannot afford market rents.

3.21 As part of a planning application, applicants should provide the following information to demonstrate how the scheme will be operated and provide well-managed, high quality rented homes:

  1. There is unified ownership and unified management of the development;
  2. Longer tenancies (three years or more) are available to all tenants. These should have break clauses for renters, which allow the tenant to end the tenancy with a month's notice any time after the first six months;
  3. The scheme offers rent certainty for the period of tenancy, the basis of which should be made clear to the tenant before a tenancy agreement is signed, including any annual increases, which should always be formula linked;
  4. There is on-site management, this does not necessarily mean full-time, dedicated staff, however, all schemes need to have systems for prompt resolution of issues and some daily on-site presence;
  5. Providers have a complaints procedure in place and are a member of a recognised ombudsman scheme;
  6. Providers do not charge up-front fees of any kind to tenants or prospective tenants, other than deposits in advance.

3.22 Discounted Market Rent units that are provided as affordable housing will be allocated to eligible households on Watford Borough Council housing register. The allocation of the Discounted Market Rent properties that are not offered as affordable housing should be allocated to people in a manner agreed with the Local Authority.

Clawback agreements

3.23 Private affordable rented properties will be subject to a 15-year covenant or a clawback agreement, agreed through planning conditions. For units provided as affordable housing, these will be provided in perpetuity.

3.24 Affordable housing, whether it be publicly or privately operated, provides a long-term community benefit. This benefit is likely to increase over the plan period if past trends continue, with property values increasing significantly faster than household incomes. Therefore it would be reasonable to expect an operator who wishes to sell any discounted market rent properties to:

  • Clearly set out how the property(s) will be re-provided, by identifying a specific development to provide certainty to the local authority that there will be no net loss of affordable housing provision and the community will not be adversely affected;
  • Re-provide with a unit(s) of the same size as the unit(s) being withdrawn for sale;
  • Locate the replacement units where they will meet the needs of people on the discounted market rent housing register.

3.25 This requirement should be set out through the use of planning conditions.

Policy HO3.4: Build to Rent

Proposals for Build to Rent homes will be supported in locations appropriate for residential development. Affordable housing should be provided in accordance with Policy HO3.3 'Affordable Housing', although Discounted Market Rent, at a genuinely affordable rent, will be accepted in place of other affordable housing tenures. Genuinely affordable rents should be established against the most up-to-date Local Housing Market Needs Assessment and should be capped at a level equivalent to the Local Housing Allowance.

To qualify as a Build to Rent scheme, proposals should meet the following criteria:

  1. The development, block or phase within the development has at least 50 units;
  2. The homes are retained as Build to Rent under a covenant for at least 15 years;
  3. A clawback mechanism is in place to recoup additional affordable housing contributions in the event of the covenant being broken;
  4. All the units are self-contained and let separately.

On schemes that propose a proportion of homes as Build to Rent and a proportion for sale to the market, this policy will only be applicable to the Build to Rent component. The scheme should be assessed as a whole, with affordable housing calculated as a proportion of the total habitable rooms across the scheme.

Accommodation for vulnerable people

3.26 With an ageing population comes changing housing needs. These include differing design principles and the types of support required to enable people to live independently for longer, with care services and facilities available. Specialist housing for elderly people can include:

  • Age-restricted general market housing;
  • Retirement living or sheltered housing;
  • Extra care housing or housing with care;
  • Residential care homes and nursing homes.

3.27 People may have disabilities such as ambulatory difficulties, blindness, learning difficulties, autism and mental health needs, which may generate a range of housing requirements that change over time. These should be considered when new homes are built and if any special requirements should be incorporated into the design of a new building.

Policy HO3.5: Specialist Housing and Care Homes

Existing specialist and supported housing will be protected where it is up to the standards set out in Hertfordshire County Council guidance.

The redevelopment of any site that includes housing for vulnerable people will only be acceptable where it meets the standards set out in Hertfordshire County Council guidance and when it meets the following criteria:

  1. There is no longer an identified need for the existing facility;
  2. The needs will be met elsewhere in the Borough, preferably close to the existing building or in a preferential location for specialist housing;
  3. Re-provision would result in improved quality of specialist housing.

Proposals for new specialist housing should be located within 400m of a district or local centre and public transport, be designed to include pick-up and drop-off facilities close to the principle entrance that are able to accommodate specialist transport vehicles. To aid mobility, development should provide space for the storage of mobility scooters.

New specialist housing and care homes that are provided at market value will be required to comply with the affordable housing requirements set out in Policy HO3.3 'Affordable Housing'.

Student, co-living and non-self-contained accommodation

3.28 Watford has a thriving town centre with a diverse range of services and facilities in the borough. The population is relatively young compared to neighbouring districts, with population projections indicating this demographic will continue.

3.29 West Herts College is the largest education institution providing tertiary education opportunities up to diploma and apprenticeship levels. The University of Westminster branch in Harrow, Middlesex University in Hendon, as well as a number of technical colleges in the area, offer wider education opportunities, attracting people from other areas or abroad who will seek accommodation. Increasingly Watford is seen as a possible location for a more affordable lifestyle.

3.30 Student and co-living accommodation is a type of housing primarily focused on younger people, where they can share communal facilities while having their own accommodation. These types of developments have a high ratio of people per square metre and are best suited to areas where there is good access to services and facilities. In Watford, the town centre and nearby railway stations provide good access for people walking, cycling and those using public transport.

3.31 For other forms of non-self-contained accommodation, these should be located where residents have good access to services and facilities and will not have an adverse impact on residential amenity.

Policy HO3.6: Student, Co-living and Non-Self-Contained Accommodation

New student and co-living and non-self-contained accommodation will be supported where it is located within the Core Development Area, or within 800 metres of a railway station located in the Core Development Area.

Proposals for student accommodation will be supported where they provide evidence of support and need from an educational institution or a registered provider of student accommodation.

A covenant protecting the premises for student use only will be secured through planning conditions.

Co-living and non-self-contained accommodation will be supported where it incorporates a high quality of design and generous communal shared space and amenities for all occupants.

To differentiate co-living and non-self-contained accommodation from other types of residential accommodation, proposals will be required to have a minimum provision of 50 units. Proposals will need to be supported with a management plan submitted as part of a planning application.

Proposals will be required to make a financial contribution to comply with affordable housing requirements set out in Policy HO3.3 'Affordable Housing'.

Self-build and custom housebuilding

3.32 Self-build and custom housebuilding is an approach to delivering new homes that are designed and built by people to meet their needs and aspirations. The limited amount of land available for new development, as identified by the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment, makes it inappropriate to allocate land specifically for self-build homes and custom homebuilding. However, self-build and custom housebuilding will be supported on windfall sites where proposals are for 50 new houses or more.

3.33 If the scale of development is large enough to support one or more self-build plots, applicants are encouraged to consider how these self-build plots can be integrated into the overall scheme. Marketing of the site should be demonstrated to have been undertaken proactively to gauge potential interest in a self-build plot by those registered on the Council's Self-build Register.

Policy HO3.7: Self-build and Custom Housebuilding

Residential proposals for 50 houses or more (excluding houses to be provided as affordable homes) will be supported where they provide one self-build plot for every ten houses, in agreement with the Local Planning Authority. This will be secured through legal agreement.

The average size of a self-build plot should be comparable to the average size of the market sized plots provided on site.

If the plot has been offered to people registered on the Council's Self-build Register and has not been sold within 12 months of completion of the overall scheme, the property will return to the developer to be built out.

Gypsies and Travellers

3.34 Gypsies and Travellers are part of our community and have housing needs that are to be addressed as part of the Local Plan. Presently, there is one permanent Gypsy and Traveller site in Watford at Tolpits Lane, with ten authorised pitches. There are no private long-term sites or sites for temporary stays in the borough.

3.35 The Watford Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (2018) was undertaken to identify the local needs of Gypsies and Travellers up to 2036. The study identified a need for two additional pitches for Gypsy and Traveller households.

3.36 The assessment found there is a need for seven additional pitchesfor households that do not meet the planning definition of Gypsies or Travellers. This need will be addressed as part of the general housing need.

3.37 One site with two pitches located adjacent to the existing site at Tolpits Lane is allocated for Gypsies and Travellers to meet projected need during the plan period. There is no further requirement to allocate land to meet future need. However, should that change in the future, proposals for new Gypsy and Traveller accommodation will be assessed using Development Management policies.

Policy HO3.8: Gypsies and Travellers

Existing designated sites used by Gypsies and Travellers will be protected, unless it is demonstrated they are no longer required.

Proposals for new sites will be supported when there is no further capacity at existing or allocated sites for Gypsies and Travellers and the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment is considered out of date.

Proposals for new sites for Gypsies and Travellers should:

  1. Have good access to the highway network;
  2. Have good access to health and education facilities by walking and cycling;
  3. Not have a significant adverse impact on the physical or visual character of the area;
  4. Contribute towards biodiversity net gain and not adversely impact upon habitats or trees;
  5. Not be located in an area of significant flood risk; and
  6. Not have an adverse impact on the amenity of existing or future residents.

Residential conversions

Residential conversions

3.38 Properties converted into smaller units contribute towards new homes required in an area through the sub-dividing of existing properties. This can make effective use of existing dwellings, particularly where there is high-density housing in an area of high sustainability. However, they can reduce the number of family-sized homes available in the area and impact upon local amenity if not properly managed. A mix of dwelling sizes (number of bedrooms) is important to maintain balanced communities and enable people to move and live in areas where they share social connections and are affordable.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

3.39 Houses in Multiple Occupation perform an important role in the availability of housing, particularly for people only able to afford lower rents, and are supported in the borough. However, Houses in Multiple Occupation, in conjunction with other residential conversions, can create issues where there is a high concentration in a particular area. This can be visible through inappropriate numbers of parked vehicles and declining maintenance, affecting the property and amenity in the immediate area.

3.40 Proposals for changes of use to a House in Multiple Occupation will only be acceptable where residential amenity is not significantly affected, family housing is re-provided and the dwelling has good access to services and facilities (Figure 1.1). To enable good management and support, and ensure that they are available in the right locations without having an adverse impact on the surrounding area, only ten percent of the total number of dwellings along a residential frontage (or for a long street, defined as a residential frontage between two main roads or junctions) will be permitted.

Policy HO3.9: Residential Conversions

Proposals to sub-divide existing residential accommodation in to self-contained flats or large scale Houses in Multiple Occupation will be supported where:

  1. In the case of conversion to self-contained flats, proposals resulting in the loss of purpose-built, family-sized accommodation with three or more bedrooms include a family-sized unit (three+ bedrooms) with direct access to garden space at ground floor on site as part of the development;
  2. In the case of conversion to self-contained flats, all residential units on site meet the nationally described space standard;
  3. In the case of conversion to a House in Multiple Occupation, the property has an original, unextended, floor area of at least 150sqm and is located in an area with good access to public transport and other amenities;
  4. Appropriate amenity space and facilities for refuse and recycling storage are provided; and
  5. The proposal is car-free or parking provision is provided on site, or in nearby off-street parking facilities.

Building standards for healthy, accessible and adaptable Homes

3.41 To achieve sustainable development and improve health and wellbeing, new homes need to be of a quality to enable people to live comfortably in circumstances that meet their needs. This applies to all members of our community who may be at different stages of their lives and have different family circumstances. Physical and mental health are often affected by household circumstances such as cramped accommodation and poor soundproofing and in part, can be related to the quality of how a home has been built.

Internal space standards

3.42 New housing is an opportunity to improve new housing for local people.. This is particularly pertinent with an increasing number of homes being delivered through permitted development rights, where Internal Space Standards are not regulated, and an increasing awareness of the importance of healthy homes to support physical, mental health and wellbeing. To ensure the delivery of high quality housing, proposals will be required to meet the Internal Space Standards set out in the national Building Regulations.

Adaptability and accessibility

3.43 People should have the opportunity to stay in their own homes as they grow older; enjoy a good quality of life, and continue to live in the community where they have lived their lives; feel more connected to their communities; and help reduce costs to the social care and health systems. To do this, homes need to be adaptable. Most existing homes have not been designed in this way and are increasingly unlikely to meet the needs of a changing demographic. Alterations useful to support people as they get older, or those with disabilities, include wider doors and ramps for wheelchair access, and walls fitted with grab rails. More generally, it is important that the internal layout of a home is designed to enable it to support people with mobility issues and disabilities.

3.44 The demographic in Watford is one of an ageing population, with the number of elderly people expected to increase (ONS, 2011 Census). The Local Housing Needs Assessment highlights the projected increase in the number of people with a range of disabilities from existing levels, including those with mobility issues, autistic spectrum disorders, learning disabilities and challenging behaviour.

3.45 The Local Housing Needs Assessment states there is an existing shortfall of adaptable homes in the borough. It suggests there is a significant need for new housing that is designed to address the needs of the changing demographic. More specifically, the study suggests that a higher proportion of people using wheelchairs are likely to be living in social housing.

Dementia Friendly homes

3.46 It is estimated that nationally the number of people living with Alzheimer's will more than double by 2040 and directly affect one in three people aged over 65 (Alzheimer's Society). In Watford this translates to about 2% of people who could be living with Alzheimer's by 2036. This is recognised locally by Watford Borough Council, having declared their intention to be a 'Dementia Friendly Town' in 2019.

3.47 Good quality housing and sensitively planned environments, whether a family home, extra-care housing, residential care or nursing care, can have a substantial impact on the quality of life of someone living with dementia. Small changes can often be enough to help someone living with dementia to be more independent, by providing an environment that is clearly defined, easy to navigate, and feels safe. Design considerations to support people with dementia are set out in Figure 3.3.

Policy HO3.10: Building Standards for New Homes

All new homes will meet or exceed the nationally described internal space standard.

All new housing will be designed and built to comply with M4(2) of the Building Regulations unless they are built to comply with M4(3) of the Building Regulations.

For developments of 10 or more homes, at least 10% of the dwellings will be built to be wheelchair adaptable and comply with M4(3) of the Building Regulations.

For developments of 50 homes or more, 2% of dwellings should be designed to support someone living with dementia.

Private and communal open space

Private open space

3.48 In addition to internal space standards that contribute towards quality homes, access to private outdoor space is just as important for health and wellbeing. Most of the residential development to come forward in Watford during the plan period will be apartments. To provide healthy home environments, access to private outdoor space is essential.

3.49 Proposals should consider how private outdoor space can add quality to a scheme and how it will improve the relationship between the building and its surroundings. This includes the provision of a high quality built environment, and should increase natural surveillance early in the design process. All dwellings should have level access to one or more of the following forms of private open space: garden, terrace, roof garden, courtyard garden or balcony.

3.50 Private open space should be practical in terms of its shape and utility, offering good amenity so it can comfortably accommodate a table and at least four chairs. The space should also be suitably screened, to protect the area from high noise levels and provide privacy.

Communal amenity space

3.51 Where communal amenity space is provided this should be of a minimum size of 50sqm for two units, plus 15sqm per additional two units. The use of roof areas, including podiums and courtyards for additional private or shared amenity or garden space is encouraged. While the standard is set out, this will need to be considered in the wider context of the scheme, in terms of the opportunities and constraints of a site.

3.52 Family housing on upper floors should have access to shared amenity space, informal play space and equipped play space (if no facilities are located nearby) and / or a balcony or terrace, subject to acceptable amenity and design considerations. This should be considered in conjunction with Policy NE9.7 'Providing New Open Space'. Where communal amenity space is provided, it should be designed to provide places to sit, play and the exercise. It should be adaptable to accommodate the changing needs of residents and be easy to maintain, whilst not compromising its contribution towards creating a quality public realm. Importantly, communal open space should be designed into the scheme so as not to be overshadowed or suffer low levels of daylight.

Policy HO3.11: Private and Communal Outdoor Amenity Space

A minimum of 5sqm of private outdoor space should be provided for 1-2 person dwellings and at least one additional square metre should be provided for each additional occupant. The minimum depth and width for all balconies and other private external spaces should be 1.5m. This does not contribute towards the minimum internal space standards.

Provision of private amenity space is to meet the following standards:

Size of dwelling

Apartment*

House/Duplex/Maisonette

1-bed

5sqm

12sqm

2-bed

7sqm

24sqm

3-bed

8sqm

25-40sqm

4+bed

9sqm

25-40sqm

The provision of communal outdoor amenity space, including roof and terrace space, will be supported. Communal outdoor amenity space will need to be designed to be usable by all residents.

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