Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Architectural control in UK planning regulations

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,626
    Blog entries
    3

    Architectural control in UK planning regulations

    In images that I've seen of the contemporary built environment in the United Kingdom, I'm struck by the uniformity of architectural style in detached and semi-detached houses. Unlike the United States and Canada, where a variety of architectural styles and themes can be found in new residential construction, even within a single region, it seems like in the UK there's little variance from design that resembles the following:





    I haven't seen many examples of suburban commercial architecture, but what I've seen seems like what would be called "prototypes", "corporate architecture" and "formula architecture" in the US; a standardized design used by a business for every location, with only minor adjustments depending on site conditions.



    A large and growing number of communities in the United States are adopting architectural design requiremetns to regulate the design of commercial and industrial strucutres, to ensure high quality design, preserve or create a unique sense of place, and prevent an "Anyplace, USA" effect. The following is a small excerpt from a unified land use code I write several years ago.

    407.5 Commercial, office, public, institutional, and mixed use architecture

    407.5.1 Intent
    Architecture and site planning dictated solely by corporate standards, cost efficiency and ease of vehicular movement will have a destructive effect on the Town’s character and sensitive visual environment, turning what was once a distinctive place into “Anytown USA.” Formula architecture, buildings that act as billboards; and “big boxes” with blank and windowless façades, flat roofs, lack of architectural detail, and miniscule entries are both boring and potential eyesores.

    (Municipality's) commercial buildings should not be considered disposable money-makers, but rather built to age gracefully and maintain their functionality, with the intent of being a future landmark worthy of preservation efforts decades after construction. These standards are intended to ensure new development is compatible with the built environment, and respects and reinforces the Town’s values, unique character and “sense of place;” while creating a built environment attractive to prospective consumers, thus resulting in a healthy and desirable business climate.
    This is a two part question:

    Is architectural regulation one of the tools available to planners in the UK? Are councils empowered to adopt architectural detailed design regulations, or is the architectural design of proposed structures reviewed on a case-by-case basis?

    Why is residential architectural design so uniform in the UK? Is residential architecture strictly regulated, or are developers just unadventurous? If I was proposing a development that included detached houses with ... oh, Colorado Neo-Craftsman design, such as what is pictured below, would I be told "No, it must be a brick or stucco house with a simple profile"?




  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,819
    Dan are you possibly suggesting that sprawl in Europe sucks as bad as sprawl in Florida? Thanks, dude...

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2007
    Location
    the clue is in the name
    Posts
    35
    Dan,

    Is architectural regulation one of the tools available to planners in the UK? Are councils empowered to adopt architectural detailed design regulations, or is the architectural design of proposed structures reviewed on a case-by-case basis?

    Why is residential architectural design so uniform in the UK? Is residential architecture strictly regulated, or are developers just unadventurous? If I was proposing a development that included detached houses with ... oh, Colorado Neo-Craftsman design, such as what is pictured below, would I be told "No, it must be a brick or stucco house with a simple profile"?
    Architectural INFLUENCE is available to planners in the UK. Pretty much every local authority has written into their Local Development Framework documents (or surviving Local Plans) some phrasing that all new developments must use building materials, finishes and construction (and sizing and siting) which is sympathetic to the local vernacular. As a result, I would argue there is more regional difference in housing stock in the UK than in the US. In UK towns, local materials form the basis of the historical housing stock and newer housing 'honours' this.

    New, large housing estates (subdivisions), can have an 'anywhere' design which is repeated throughout the country. But even these will acknowledge local external treatments (whether stone, render, cobble etc) as a basic planning requirement. I wish developers would suggest designs and layouts differening from the 6 years old's view of square house, pitched roof, but from what I've seen "the box" is pretty much a given but developers are generally willing to conform to suggestions for external treatments. For infill development or "one-offs" some concils will consider a wide range of styles - generally this is more applicable to the cities than towns and villages though. In these cases, you could end up with a New England Saltbox next to a Georgan house - it can happen, but this has nothing to do with "sprawl" or tract housing.

    On the whole, I would argue that residential architecutural design in the UK is far more regionally unique than in the US. (From what I've observed in the US, the distinction is based on age of house with all 50s / 70s/ 90s housing appearing similar regardless of area).

    Your point that UK out-of-town-centre shopping development has a national, corporate flavour is well taken. Perhaps we in the UK are behind you in quality commercial development a la the strip mall.... From my limited experience I would suggest that with commercial development planners here are more concerned with a) economic development and b) development contributions effecting needed improvments than architecutral treatments.

    Just my (novice planners) opinion.

    Cheers

  4. #4
    Cyburbian b3nr's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    272
    Uniformity in suburbanresidential development? I think my colleague above has covered it very well, its getting better quite quickly. However I don't think anyone could deny that for most towns and cities in the UK ...

    Its quite a question! I only have an opinion not a definitve answer. Once you get out of the architecturally rich town and city centres and into the residential suburbs, you will be hit in the face by the fact that you could basically anywhere, not just anywhere in terms of regionally, not just anywhere in terms of England, but you could be anywhere in England, Scotland, Wales and even Ireland, they all have this 'feature' the main differences being the very subtle changes in the style of windows, pitches of roofs etc. Without pictures is very hard to explain, when you know what your looking for you can at least tell which country your in

    A lot of my last job basically meant driving around suburbs looking for places to build houses. We'd cover a smallish town in a (rather long) day, systematically surveying more or less every street that the close scale mapping suggested might have potential. Nearly every town, in every region, the suburbs look the same... there is no defence. This is especially true for state built housing in the 30's and 60's and speculative building in the 60 through to the 90's.

    I'm not going to say its a 'problem' as far as residential is concerned, because I don't think anyone really minds. Look at most of the well preserved medieval settlements, and uhm, big long rows of pretty identical buildings, move into the Victorian period and you get massive areas of terraced housing stretching, seemingly forever...

    Lets go on a tour:

    Just to reiterate, that this is nothing new. Here is some very exclusive Georgian housing (17xx). You wouldn't change it for the world:


    This is Victoriana (18xx-1900's), generally irregular grids, I actually live somewhere in this picture. How do i find my way home at night? Well once you get to street level most of these areas are very pleasant.


    Here's a local street at street level:

    Not that bad afterall eh?

    Here we have post war housing, big houses, but again very uniform.


    Modern suburbia:
    Stock estates built in the 1970s and 80s (my least favourite btw):


    So one, its just a habit. Two, house building seems to come in splurges here, (willing to be corrected on that). Three is the builders, there's a limited number of them and they tend to be interested in making cash, which is fair enough. Here people will live in anything, due to a constant housing shortage which is really coming to the fore again.

    Commercial developments. Most of them make me cry they are so bad, its just capitalism duh. You can't make a big box store look much better, especially when it has to have acres and acres of parking.

    But i would say, not trying to be confrontational, we have nothing on a par with some of the stuff is saw in Texas and Arkansas.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    London
    Posts
    21
    dan, the sad fact is many of these homogeneous designs are purely because volume housebuilders churn out 'tried and tested' designs which they know will meet building regs and they have the supply chains of materials etc in place.

    as alluded to earlier - the shortage of supply, and this country's bewildering pre-occupation with home ownership, means buyers will accept it!

    i like to think it is changing though. certainly in the last 5 years or so. it is now on the agenda. wayne hemingway ( a fashion designer and planning graduate) has been particularly vocal about housing design http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Hemingway and there are initiatives such as http://www.buildingforlife.org/

    well-resourced planning authorities are increasingly looking at urban design in a holistic manner and producing guidance accordingly. if you have a look at london, the mayor has his own urbanism unit - http://www.designforlondon.gov.uk/

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,626
    Blog entries
    3
    Moderator note:
    Moved from the former Planning in the UK forum.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Erosion control
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 20 Aug 2010, 2:02 PM
  2. Spatial planning and hazard control
    Environmental Planning
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 10 Feb 2010, 6:32 AM
  3. Replies: 4
    Last post: 31 Mar 2009, 6:01 PM
  4. Replies: 0
    Last post: 23 Mar 2002, 1:04 PM