Active frontages

An active frontage is one which allows some kind of movement or visual relationship between the person outside and the activity inside.  At a minimal level, this interaction might be one of simple observation such as a window display or people working.  At a higher level of interaction, the pedestrian could be encouraged to enter the unit to buy something or participate in an activity.  The most interactive frontages are usually those of cafés, bars or shops, which spill out onto the street.



The expression of the vertical or horizontal subdivision of a building facade into perceivable elements by the treatment of its architectural features.



Encompasses all aspects of biological diversity, especially including species richness, ecosystem complexity and genetic variation.


Building line

The line formed by the frontages of buildings along a street.


Built form

Buildings and their structures


Buildings of Local Interest

Buildings of Local Interest are not subject to statutory protection, but are recognised as being of importance to the locality or the City’s historical and architectural development.


Cambridge Local Plan 2006

The Cambridge Local Plan 2006 sets out policies and proposals for future development and land use to 2016; the Plan will be a material consideration when determining planning applications.


Emerging Cambridge Local Plan 2014

The emerging Cambridge Local Plan 2014 sets out policies and proposals for the future development and land use to 2031; the plan will be a material consideration when determining planning applications.


City Centre

Historic Core and Fitzroy/Burleigh Street shopping areas in Cambridge.  These areas provide a range of facilities and services, which fulfil a function as a focus for both the community and for public transport. See also Cambridge Proposals Map (October 2009).


Conservation Area

Areas identified, which have special architectural or historic interest, worthy of protection and enhancement.


Fine grain

The quality of an area’s layout of building blocks and plots having small and frequent subdivisions.



The layout (structure and urban grain), density, scale (height and massing) and appearance (materials and details).



A relatively new area of research and design that applies to the treatment of entry points into settlements, town centres, high streets etc, with the aim of creating a clear gateway and transition point between more conventional higher speeds roads and more integrated low speed contexts.


Historic Core Conservation Area Appraisal

The Historic Core Conservation Area Appraisal covers 70+ streets in the City Centre which are defined according to their significance. This significance can be their historical, architectural or social impact on the character and appearance of Cambridge.


Listed Building

A building or structure of special architectural or historic interest and included in a list, approved by the Secretary of State.  The owner must get Listed Building Consent to carry out alterations that would affect its character or its setting.



The combined effect of the arrangement, volume and shape of a building or group of elements.


Mixed use development

Development comprising two or more uses as part of the same scheme.  This could apply at a variety of scales from individual buildings, to a street, to a new neighbourhood or urban extension.  ‘Horizontal’ mixed uses are side by side, usually in different buildings.  Vertical mixed uses are on different floors of the same building. 



People and vehicles going to and passing through buildings, places and spaces.


Natural surveillance

The discouragement to wrong-doing by the presence of passers by or the ability of people to see out of windows.  Also known as passive surveillance.


National Planning Policy Framework  (NPPF)

The NPPF sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. It sets out the Government’s requirements for the planning system only to the extent that it is relevant, proportionate and necessary to do so. It provides a framework within which local people and their accountable councils can produce their own distinctive local and neighborhood plans, which reflect the needs and priorities of their communities.



Permeability describes the degree to which urban forms, buildings, places and spaces permit or restrict the movement of people or vehicles in different directions.  Permeability is generally considered a positive attribute of urban design, as it permits ease of movement by different transport methods and avoids severing neighbourhoods.  Areas which lack permeability, e.g. those severed by arterial roads or the layout of streets in cul-de-sac form, are considered to discourage effective movement on foot and encourage longer journeys by car.


Planning Obligation

A binding legal agreement requiring a developer or landowner to provide or contribute towards facilities, infrastructure or other measures, in order for planning permission to be granted.  Planning Obligations are normally secured under Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.


Public Art

Publicly sited works of art, which make an important contribution to the character and visual quality of the area and are accessible to the public. 


Public Realm

The parts of a village, town or city (whether publicly or privately owned) that are available, without charge for everyone to use or see, including streets, squares and parks.


Section 106

See Planning Obligation.


Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development is a very broad term that encompasses many different aspects and issues from the global to local levels.  Overall sustainable development can be described as ‘Development, which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability for the future generations to meet their own needs’ (after the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development – the Brundtland Commission).


Sustainable Drainage Strategy (SuDS)

Development normally reduces the amount of water that can infiltrate into the ground and increases surface water run-off due to the amount of hard surfacing used.  Sustainable drainage systems control surface water run off by mimicking natural drainage process through the use of surface water storage areas, flow limiting devices and the use of infiltration areas or soakaways etc.


SWOT analysis

A method for assessing an area in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.


Water sensitive urban design

Water sensitive urban design (WSUD) is an approach to design that delivers greater harmony between water, the environment and communities. This is achieved by integrating water cycle management with the built environment through planning and urban design.

For instructions on how to use the system and make comments, please see our help guide.
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