Home design standards stipulated in document

Guidance to advise developers on design standards that are likely to secure planning permission for homes has been issued by Essex County Council.

The document is designed to augment the Essex Design Guide, first produced in 1973 and updated in 1997, with a further review carried out this year.

It focuses on urban and suburban areas and will apply to most residential and mixed-use developments, ranging from large urban extensions to smaller plots.

The supplement, launched at this week's Thames Gateway Forum, is one of three strands of the Essex Design Initiative, a programme run by the council and consultancy Llewellyn Davies Yeang to improve the design quality and sustainability of the county's built environment. Other elements include a campaign for design quality and a learning programme.

Backed by the ODPM and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, the initiative held a number of workshops to develop ideas for the supplementary planning guidance. The supplement is going out for consultation in the built environment sector and district councils and will go to the public next year.

Proposals include increasing housing density, with large family flats around shared spaces being preferred over individual gardens. The guide says that neighbourhoods must be walkable, minimise environmental impact and improve water conservation.

Small wind turbines and a system of "green points", where developers have to install features that encourage biodiversity, are all under consideration.

Essex cabinet member for planning, environment and culture Peter Martin said: "We have objected to the extent of housing targets but we are trying to be positive about the houses that will be built."

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