Greater Nottingham Strategic Plan Growth Options (July 2020)

Chapter Eight Designing Good Places


8.1  This chapter considers how to achieve well designed places across the Greater Nottingham area, within which people will choose to live and work. The issues include: whether we should promote the use of consistent design principles or standards across the Plan area; and if so, what design tools should be used. This chapter also seeks to establish how the Plan could provide a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment.

8.2  One of the key aims of the NPPF is to foster a well-designed and safe built environment (paragraph 8, (b), 'a Social Objective'). Paragraph 124 of the NPPF states that the creation of high quality buildings and places is fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve. The paragraph also stresses that good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, creates better places in which to live and work and helps make development acceptable to communities. Being clear about design expectations, and how these will be tested is essential for achieving this.

8.3  Paragraph 125 of the NPPF states that plans should, at the most appropriate level, set out a clear design vision and expectations, so that applicants have as much certainty as possible about what is likely to be acceptable. In addition, Planning Practice Guidance[1] advocates design policies being set at the appropriate level, through strategic and non-strategic policies, and through neighbourhood plans where these are prepared.

8.4  Paragraph 185 of the NPPF states that plans should set out a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, including both designated and non-designated heritage assets. Non-designated heritage assets could include areas of archaeological protection and locally-valued buildings, where these have been formally identified.

1. Planning Practice Guidance: [back]


8.5  Nottingham and the surrounding towns and villages of the Greater Nottingham area have developed over a considerable time period, with the characteristics of places and architectural quality of the built environment varying widely across the area as a whole. Apart from some of the more modern housing developments, there is no uniform style of design within the main built up area of Nottingham, and the numerous towns and villages that surround it.

8.6  The Greater Nottingham area benefits from a significant number of examples of good contemporary design. More recent examples include: Green Street in the Meadows; Lenton Gardens in Lenton, Nottingham; Trent Basin on Nottingham's Waterside; the GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry at the University of Nottingham; the Advanced Manufacturing Building at the Jubilee Campus of the University of Nottingham; The Pavilion 'Heart of the Campus' development at the Clifton Campus of Nottingham Trent University; and, The Barn, Sutton Bonington.

8.7  The historic environment contributes significantly towards a sense of place, and can provide for local distinctiveness. Designated historic assets, such as listed buildings (for example, Wollaton Hall and numerous churches as well as industrial buildings and structures, such as the Bennerley Viaduct in Awsworth), conservation areas (including the Lace Market, for its industrial heritage), historic parks and gardens (such as Newstead Abbey Park) and scheduled monuments (for example, Margidunum Roman Station) are offered statutory protection through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Achieving Well Designed Places

8.8  In 2019, the Government produced its National Design Guide[2]. The aim of the National Design Guide is to illustrate how well designed places that are beautiful, enduring and successful can be achieved in practice. The National Design Guide outlines ten key characteristics to consider when seeking good design. These are:

  • Context
  • Identity
  • Built form
  • Movement
  • Nature
  • Public spaces
  • Uses
  • Homes and buildings
  • Resources
  • Lifespan

8.9  A number of 'tools' can be used to ensure good design and place-making, such as design codes, Building for Life assessments and design review panels.

8.10  In addition, and subject to evidence and viability, a number of standards could be applied to new development, such as space standards, technical standards (for example, Breeam certification) and accessibility standards.

8.11  There is an opportunity for the Plan to promote the use of some of the design tools on offer. This could apply across the whole plan area on a consistent basis, or it could be left to individual authorities to decide their approach.

2. National Design Guide: ‘Planning practice guidance for beautiful, enduring and successful places’, MHCLG (2019): [back]

Question D1: Achieving Well Designed Places

  • Should we promote the use of consistent design principles or standards across the Plan area? If so, what design tools should be used?

Conserving and Enhancing the Historic Environment

8.12  We need to ensure that the plan seeks to conserve and enhance our historic environment. National planning policy states that plans should set out a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, including heritage assets most at risk through neglect, decay or other threats.

8.13  This strategy could take into account:

  • the desirability of sustaining and enhancing the significance of heritage assets, and putting them to viable uses consistent with their conservation;
  • the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits that conservation of the historic environment can bring;
  • the desirability of new development making a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness; and,
  • opportunities to draw on the contribution made by the historic environment to the character of a place.

Question D2: Conserving and Enhancing the Historic Environment

  • How can the Plan provide a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment?