Cheltenham Plan Pre-Submission consultation

Pre-Submission Cheltenham Plan

5 Design Requirements


5.1 The Council seeks to ensure that all new buildings and spaces make a positive contribution to Cheltenham and to the lives of its residents and visitors. It therefore places great emphasis on the importance of good design in all development. Good design with well-considered buildings and spaces is key to making places that are successful both socially and economically, good to live in, and attractive to visit. It helps to achieve value for money in new developments, and makes effective use of scarce resources, be they land or materials.

5.2 Good design also helps to create lively communities which are human in scale with distinctive local character; it helps to make streets and public spaces that are safe, accessible, and pleasant to use; it can even create places that inspire.

5.3 Careful urban design can contribute to a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour and is an important tool in promoting more healthy patterns of living. Overall, it can produce attractive, high-quality, sustainable places in which people will want to live, work and spend leisure time.


Development will only be permitted where it:

a) adequately reflects principles of urban and architectural design; and

b) complements and respects neighbouring development and the character of the locality and / or landscape.

Extensions or alterations of existing buildings will be required to avoid:

c) causing harm to the architectural integrity of the building or group of buildings; and

d) unacceptable erosion of open space around the existing building.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme A –objectives a, d, g and i; Theme C – objectives a, d and f.


5.4 The key principles of urban design and architectural design are set out in Tables SD4b and SD4c of the Joint Core Strategy (JCS). Together, these define the overall layout of a place (in terms of its routes and building blocks), its scale (in terms of building height and massing), its appearance (as expressed in details and use of materials), and its landscape (including all the public realm, built and green spaces).

5.5 The Council will take account of the key urban and architectural design principles in determining planning applications and will often require the preparation of a masterplan or design brief to accompany a proposal, the contents of which should accord with the framework set out at Table SD4d of the JCS. Recommendations from the design review panel will be taken into account and innovative design which helps to raise design standards in the area will be encouraged.


5.6 The high-quality, comprehensive shopping facilities set in pleasant surroundings offered by Cheltenham are an important part of the town’s attraction to both residents and tourists. Shopfronts form an integral part of this scene, and to maintain an attractive environment it is important that these should be well designed. The Council has adopted a Shopfront Design Guide to encourage greater care to be taken in shopfront design, to allow scope for imagination and flair, and to ensure that a high standard of design in shopfronts is achieved and maintained throughout the town and the Borough as a whole.


5.7 The Council has recently prepared a Public Art Strategy which sets out the diverse practice that forms contemporary public art, or art in public, and could be developed to enhance the town for the benefit of its residents, for visitors and for its cultural future. There are sections on the cultural, social, environmental and economic benefits of public art and the way public art can complement local objectives and policy in Cheltenham. The strategy recommends early engagement of planners and developers as a key driver for successful projects which engage communities in creating their own agendas and spaces and integrate well.


5.8 Extensions to existing buildings need to be carefully designed to respect the character and scale of the existing building or group of buildings. In accordance with the aforementioned key principles, they should be to a high standard of design, and would normally be expected to use materials which match the original building, with similar forms of roofs, doors, windows and other elements. In cases where it is important that the extension remains subordinate to the original building, it may be appropriate to distinguish the extension by a substantial setback in the building line. Occasionally, a different approach may be appropriate to separate and differentiate an extension from the main building. The most important consideration is that an extension should not detract from the original. The Council has adopted a Residential Alterations and Extensions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to help householders, builders and agents when considering schemes for altering or extending individual houses.

5.9 Extensions will not be permitted where they result in an unacceptable loss of garden or other open space (see also Policy D3 below, and the SPD: Development on Garden Land and Infill Sites (2009)).


The display of an advertisement or sign will be supported providing its location or size would not harm:

a) the appearance of the building or the visual amenity or distinctive character of the immediate neighbourhood where it is to be displayed; and

b) public safety.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme A - objectives a and i; Theme C - objectives a and f.


5.10 The display of advertisements is generally subject to the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007. These Regulations do not apply to certain classes of advertisement, including traffic signs, which give directions to motorists or pedestrians. The Regulations grant deemed consent for other classes of advertisement, which are therefore not subject to control by the Council. Deemed consent can be restricted by the Direction of the Secretary of State, or withdrawn by Local Planning Authorities by service of a Discontinuance Notice. All other advertisements are subject to control and require express consent.

5.11 Appropriate advertisements and signs can give vitality and interest to a street and create a positive impact on the commerciality of businesses. Inappropriate advertisements and signs can, however, detract from important architectural or townscape character, and a proliferation can cause clutter, confusion and loss of visual amenity. For this reason, the Council gives careful consideration to the design and location of new proposals and, in some cases, to existing advertisements and signs which disfigure a building or street and may require action to secure their removal.

5.12 Additional advertisement controls exist in conservation areas and reference to Policy HE3: Advertisements, Signs and Hoardings in Conservation Areas will be necessary when considering relevant proposals in these areas.


5.13 Local authorities have powers to define Areas of Special Control which are considered to merit protection on amenity grounds. Such areas can be rural or urban in nature, and express consent is required for a greater range of advertisements than would normally be the case. Areas of Special Control were first designated in the former Cheltenham Municipal Borough in 1950, and were extended to cover the AONB in 1967.

5.14 Under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007, local authorities are obliged to periodically consider whether any part or additional part of their area should be designated as an Area of Special Control, and, when an area has been designated, to consider whether it should be revoked or modified.

5.15 The Council has periodically reviewed the Areas of Special Control in Cheltenham since their designation but no changes have been made. The Council will continue to keep the designations under review during the course of the plan period and if changes are considered appropriate, for example, to include the Green Belt and / or conservation areas, an order to this effect will be submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation. The effect of a control order is to limit some of the categories of advertisement that benefit from deemed consent.

5.16 It should be noted that the designations, whilst complementary to development plan policy, are entirely separate and are made under different regulations. They are therefore not part of the planning process and are not appropriate to be advanced as a proposal of the development plan.


The development of private green areas, private open spaces and private gardens which make a significant contribution to the townscape and environmental quality of Cheltenham will not be permitted.

Proposals for development within extensive grounds of large properties will need to take account of the scale and location of existing buildings within or adjacent to the site, the main features of the site itself, and where appropriate, will be required to:

a) retain mature trees;

b) retain and enhance existing landscaping;

c) provide new landscaping;

d) avoid disturbance of significant habitats.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme C - objective f.


5.17 Para. 53 of the National Planning Policy framework (NPPF) states that “Local planning authorities should consider the case for setting out policies to resist inappropriate development of residential gardens, for example where development would cause harm to the local area”.

5.18 A considerable amount of green space in Cheltenham is owned privately. It can take the form of playing fields and the gardens / grounds of commercial, educational and domestic properties. The environmental value of such green space can equal that of publicly owned green space but it is often overlooked and considered by owners to be a valuable resource that can be better utilised for development, for example, as a means of expanding existing premises or providing better car parking.

5.19 The above policy is designed to ensure that valuable private green spaces are maintained and that development proposals which could be to the detriment of the townscape and environmental value of Cheltenham’s green space are not allowed to proceed. In determining whether a green space has significant townscape and environmental value, the Council will have regard, amongst other factors, to the following:

  • the spacious character of the town
  • the quality of the local townscape
  • the established character of the locality
  • the setting of an important building or group of buildings
  • important landmarks, views and vistas within and out of Cheltenham.

5.20 There are many large properties in Cheltenham which were originally private homes. Some are still in this use, but more have been converted to flats, nursing homes, private schools, business premises and other uses. These properties are often set in extensive grounds and the maturity of these grounds creates particularly attractive and valuable green spaces. The least disturbed areas will also often contain well-established plant and animal habitats.

5.21 The above policy will require all relevant proposals to take full account of the development site and its surroundings and, where necessary, retain and enhance existing landscaping and avoid disturbance of any significant habitats present.

5.22 The Development on Garden Land and Infill Sites in Cheltenham SPD was adopted by the Council in 2009 and remains an important material consideration. The SPD framework outlines factors likely to influence the consideration of applications and indicates what is required from garden land and urban infill proposals.

5.23 Those areas being advanced as Local Green Space in the Cheltenham Plan are not intended to be covered by Policy D3 but are instead considered in the chapter on Green Infrastructure through Policy GI1.

5.24 The recreational value of individual green spaces as distinct from their environmental value is considered separately in the chapter on Social and Community Infrastructure.