5.6 Housing design standards

New homes should be great places to live which meet the changing needs of their residents over time. Good internal spaces, and private outdoor spaces, are fundamental for wellbeing and health, and ensure that development creates liveable places that help to foster stable, neighbourly communities. This policy sets out the space standards that we require, both internal and external, to create high quality, higher density housing in North East Cambridge.

  • There was overall support for the creation of a higher density mixed use residential led development to the east side of Milton Road and the benefits of providing homes and employment near to each other supported by good sustainable transport options.
  • However, there were concerns raised about very high-density development, including the quality and size of housing that would be provided and the impact taller buildings would have on microclimate.

How your comments have been taken into account

  • Concerns about the quality of the kind of place created at North East Cambridge in terms of amenity and microclimate are addressed through the 'Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard (March 2015)' requirement in the policy. The requirements set in the standards help provide accommodation that meets the needs of future residents in terms of internal spaces standards.
  • To provide a required standard for private and shared communal amenity space, a series of minimum space standards are identified. Good design goes beyond achieving minimum 'space standards' and the other policies in the Area Action Plan clearly set out expectations with regards to design quality at North East Cambridge. Evidence work, through the North East Cambridge Typologies Study, has compiled examples of innovative buildings and developments that deliver higher densities whilst also creating great places in which to live and work.

(8) Policy 11: Housing design standards

Proposals will be designed to:

  1. Provide new residential units whose gross internal floor areas and private amenity spaces that are usable and meet the residential space standards set out in the Government's Technical Housing Standards – nationally described space standard (March 2015) (or any future equivalent) as a minimum. It will be expected that new residential units at North East Cambridge will exceed these standards.
  2. Ensure that a minimum of 5 m2 of private outdoor space is provided for a 1-2 person (bedspace) dwelling and an extra 1 m2 is provided for each additional person (bedspace). This can be provided as private balconies or shared private communal outdoor space, which can be rooftop or podium garden space (having regard to Policy 7: Legible streets and spaces in relation to landscaping and trees). The minimum depth and width of all balconies and other private external spaces must be 1500mm to ensure adequate circulation space. Private outdoor space must have adequate outlook, orientation and privacy and be of practical shape and utility.
  3. Achieve a satisfactory relationship to adjoining properties avoiding significant harmful impact in terms of loss of privacy, daylight or sunlight, or an overbearing effect due to bulk, proximity or outlook.
  4. Residential development should maximise the provision of dual aspect dwellings and avoid the provision of single aspect north facing dwellings as much reasonably possible.
  5. Residential development should ensure that all habitable rooms receive good natural daylight and sunlight. All homes should provide for direct sunlight to enter at least one habitable room for part of the day and living areas and kitchen/dining spaces should preferably receive direct sunlight. Communal areas within flatted developments should also receive natural daylight and ventilation as much as possible.
  6. 90% of new build housing should meet Building Regulation requirement M4(2) 'Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings', with the remaining 10% meeting Building Regulation requirement M4(3) 'wheelchair user dwellings', i.e. will be designed to be wheelchair accessible, or easily adaptable for residents who are wheelchair users'.

Relevant objectives: 3, 4

Along with the other policies of the Area Action Plan that establish an expectation for high quality design, the density of the development will need to be carefully managed to ensure high levels of amenity and that functional design elements are well resolved. Due to the higher density nature of development at North East Cambridge, achieving good quality development needs to be carefully managed to achieve the best possible outcomes. Environmental factors that affect usability of buildings and spaces, such as daylight, sunlight and shade, noise, odour and other types of pollution, need to be assessed as part of a 'design led' approach. Amenity, privacy and other development factors will also need to be considered and mitigated to avoid significant harmful effects on residents. Private and communal amenity spaces in the form of balconies, terraces and winter gardens, along with more conventional gardens, will allow people access to outside space.

Ensuring that new homes are well lit through natural daylight and sunlight is an important design requirement. The amount of daylight and sunlight received has a significant effect on the general amenity of dwellings, the mental health of occupants, the appearance and enjoyment of private and communal open spaces, and the energy efficiency of all buildings. Proposals should therefore seek to maximise the amount of daylight and sunlight entering into a habitable room. Well-designed buildings should also allow for internal communal areas to be naturally lit and ventilated. When designing for well-lit new homes, careful consideration should be given to adjacent balconies which can significantly reduce light entering windows below them.

The policy requires 90% of new homes to be wheelchair accessible and adaptable, in line with Building Regulation requirement M4(2) with the remaining 10% being built to accommodate wheelchair uses in accordance with Building Regulation requirement M4(3). This is to ensure that all new housing within North East Cambridge is future-proofed as the personal circumstances of residents change over time. This allows for people to stay within their homes for longer and helps create a socially diverse and inclusive community. This also reduces demand for purpose-built specialist accommodation.

  • Percentage of homes meeting minimum private amenity standards
  • Percentage of homes incorporating dual aspect
  • Percentage of wheelchair accessible homes
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