Residential Design Guide

Ended on the 7th May 2018
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Design considerations

The character of Warwick District is made up of a complex variety of building styles which contribute to the attractive qualities of many residential areas. These range from the classical architecture of Leamington with set piece terraces to the traditional timber framed vernacular of rural areas.

There are a number of factors which make up these qualities which should be considered in all applications. The design should demonstrate that these elements have been fully considered. The following sections contain information on the following aspects of design:

  • Local distinctiveness (see below)
  • Densities and increased scale (see below)
  • Layout, design and dwelling mix (see P31)
  • Private amenity space (see P25)
  • Design characteristics (see P26)
  • Design practicalities (see P28)
  • Access for the disabled (see P30)
  • Parking considerations (see P32)
  • Landscaping (see P33)

Local distinctiveness

In the past, the use of locally obtainable materials and the design of buildings to suit local need was universally evident and still remains, particularly in historic core areas. From the beginning of the 20th century the widespread use of concrete, bricks and other easily obtainable building materials had led to a decline in local distinctiveness and in many instances, a blandness which no longer relates in any way to a particular area in which a building has been constructed. In some 20th century developments, a local distinctiveness emerges in the housing styles used.

The rhythm of buildings, consistent detailing, local materials, boundary treatments and landscaping all contribute to the local distinctiveness and character of an area and this should be analysed through a character appraisal of the locality.

Local distinctiveness does not preclude the use of modern designs. Distinctive characteristics of certain areas may be equally well interpreted in a contemporary form. The Council wishes to support the use of innovative design which enhances local distinctiveness and the townscape quality. It should be noted that local distinctiveness is, as it states, local to an area and a design solution for

a particular site may not be repeatable elsewhere. The key design requirement is for a solution that addresses each characteristic of a character appraisal of an individual site. The character appraisal is the medium through which local distinctiveness will be analysed and the Council will expect to see evidence that both the existing pattern of development and its special qualities have been examined and the detailed design solution positively responds to these findings.

Densities and increased scale

The 'Garden Towns, Suburbs and Villages' prospectus demonstrates the advantages of tree lined streets, suitable parking facilities, plot sizes and appropriate housing density. Bringing forward new development at the right density is important. There is a balance to be reached between delivering high quality design within the 'Garden Towns Villages and Suburbs' principles whilst reducing the amount of greenfield land required for development. The Local Plan therefore requires that new development on greenfield sites should be provided at a density of at least 30 dwellings per hectare (Policy BE2, c). There is no upper limit set on this although new development is expected to harmonise with, or enhance the surrounding area in line with Policy BE1 (above) and where development sites are located in or close to town centres or public transport interchanges, densities are expected to be significantly higher than the minimum.

All proposals will need to comply with these density requirements unless it is clear that a lower density is more appropriate on the site. The Council recognises that there

will be occasions where this may be the case. Some sites may not lend themselves to a higher density proposal without compromising design quality for example,

  • Where the character of the locality suggests a lower density scheme is appropriate
  • Smaller sites
  • Those of an unusual shape
  • Those with distinctive topographic or landscape features which make a significant contribution to local townscape character

Furthermore there will be cases where the Council seeks a particular mix of housing on a site (for example, where the emphasis is on family homes rather than apartments) and this will also impact upon overall housing density.

In such cases, a development of less than 30 dwellings per hectare can be considered as appropriate and the justification for this lower density should be set out in the design statement accompanying the planning application. Applicants will be expected to have regard to any advice in this design guide in making a case for a lower density scheme.

Outdoor private amenity space

Private amenity space refers to rear gardens of houses and individual or shared outdoor community spaces for flats and apartments. In designing high quality amenity space, consideration should be given to privacy, outlook, noise, sunlight, trees and planting, materials (including paving), lighting and boundary treatment. All dwellings should have access to outdoor amenity space that is not overlooked from the public realm and provides a reasonable level of privacy. The size, shape and slope gradient of amenity space is key to its usability. Awkwardly shaped, narrow and very steeply sloping amenity spaces should be avoided and will not be considered to count towards usable outdoor amenity space.

The minimum standards for such amenity spaces are as follows:


1 or 2 bedroom

40 sq m

3 bedroom

50 sq m

4 bedroom

60 sq m


10 square metres per bedroom

For flats amenity space may be communal but should form a consolidated area. Provision of amenity space and gardens must be set within the context of ensuring that inefficient use of land is avoided. Therefore in situations where the standards cannot be achieved e.g. high density housing developments the Council will seek to work jointly in agreement with developers to provide an upgrade to nearby off site amenity space which will be available to the general public.

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