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Design of buildings and open spaces

The quality of our surroundings is recognised as a vital factor in promoting public health and well-being, as well as attracting businesses, employers and tourists. Good design is concerned with the design of buildings and the spaces between them.

The planning service will assess the design of all applications for planning permission.

For individual houses and house extensions we will seek to ensure that new development relates well to the existing house and its neighbours in terms of:

  • Scale - it should not over-dominate either in size or the scale of its individual component parts.
  • Design - the new should harmonise with the existing to create a pleasant composition.
  • Materials - materials should not necessarily match the existing or neighbouring buildings but the new should certainly show respect to the old. 
  • Amenity - the new development should avoid overlooking or overshadowing.

For large developments such as new housing areas the design should follow best practice guidance and government policy as contained within 'Manual for Streets' parts 1 and 2. In summary, new housing areas should create:

  • an accessible network of roads and paths that are well linked with the surrounding area
  • streets that are well overlooked and enclosed by attractive building frontages
  • parking areas that avoid domination of the street scene
  • open spaces that are well overlooked by nearby houses and suitable for small children's play.

St Helens Council has prepared a number of Supplementary Planning documents (SPDs), which provide guidance for improving design quality in new developments.

For any further information on design matters, please contact the Conservation and Design officer: conservation@sthelens.gov.uk

Pre-application discussions can help to set the principles of a large development layout before the detailed design phase.