• Slide 01


    Working on the future development
    of the chapelcross nuclear site


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Simplified Planning Zone

A Simplified Planning Zone (SPZ) is an area where the need to apply for planning permission is removed for certain types of development. A SPZ requires the preparation of a SPZ Scheme, by the planning authority, which details the types of development and nature of uses that are permitted together with any limitations, conditions and guidelines that a development proposal must comply with. Should a development proposal comply with the SPZ Scheme applications for planning permission will not be required. However it does not mean, a loss of standards of development, amenity or protection for the environment.

These standards remain or can be enhanced through a positive SPZ scheme, which can set out upfront the design expectations. A SPZ only removes the need to apply for planning permission, other consents including Roads Construction Consent, Listed Building Consent, a Building Warrant and any licenses are still required, where applicable.


Design Code

Design codes are a distinct form of detailed design guidance, which provide a set criteria of design rules and instructions, for architects and developers to apply to a given development. This enables landowners, funders or development sponsors to ensure that new development meets a baseline standard, which is applied consistently across the development phases. This is particularly relevant when applied to a large development site and ensures that different developers apply the same design rules for the duration of the building programme and across the whole of the site. This might, for example, ensure that all development has a road frontage and that primary roads must be tree lined or that all internal secondary routes are interconnected with vehicle and pedestrian routes. This would, therefore, prevent the use of cul-de-sacs and ensure that people within the community have direct access to the shortest route to local facilities and services from where they live.

A design code effectively provides architects and landscape designers with a set of written and graphic rules within a development that precisely establishes the two and three dimensional design elements of a particular development or area within a large development site; and how these relate to one another, without predetermining the final design outcome. An example of this would be that the code provides clear instruction on the widths of roads to be built in within the primary, secondary and tertiary areas with a neighbourhood, how road junctions are treated, where trees should be planted and how traffic should interact with pedestrians in public spaces. Similarly, the code would be specific on design features such as, how far back a house would be from the road and whether the house would be required to have a front boundary or open directly onto the street.

The advantages of having a design code for a given development is that it provides clarity over what constitutes acceptable design quality for a particular site or area and, thereby provide a level of certainty for developers and the local community alike. Design codes set out design principles aimed at delivering better quality places, for example, the requirements for streets, urban blocks, massing and building heights, or they may focus on landscape, architectural or building performance issues (for example, increasing energy efficiency). However, unlike many generic urban design guidelines or local development standards, design codes do not simply repeat policy or guidance found in other national or local policy or guidance documents. Instead, codes provide a positive statement about the particular qualities of a place. Codes are focussed around those design characteristics that are important to achieve, and they establish and firmly fix the ‘must have’ design elements. In so doing, design codes help to provide continuity in quality and design consistency over the lifetime of the development construction phase. To achieve the aim of ensuring that new development is built to exacting high quality standards, design codes often take references from a design vision contained within a masterplan, or other site or area-based vision. Sometimes they may evolve out of a design and development framework or seek to maintain the character and quality of an existing place. In these circumstances the set of design instructions which make up the design code will reflect the specific and particular requirements of the place.

Simplified Planning/Development Zones

The aim of an SPZ or SPD is to ensure that developers, builders and property owners are able to secure planning consents more expediently, once they can demonstrate that their plans and proposals are compliant with the regulations set out within the Local Planning Authority’s policies. Once compliance is demonstrated the Local Planning Authority is able to issue the necessary approval without the need to refer the planning application through its normal processes. This reduces the amount of time required to grant consent significantly.

Where the Local Planning Authority has produced a design code for a development site, for example, the detailed design and planning parameters would be contained within the code. A developer or existing property owner wishing to obtain planning consent, would be required to demonstrate to the Local Planning Authority that it had met the requirements set out within the design code in its proposal. Once satisfied that the proposals were compliant, the Local Planning Authority would then approve the application. Such an approach would assist developers navigate the planning process more effectively and with a greater degree of certainty. It would also greatly assist the Local Planning Authority to articulate its objectives and requirements for develop because this would be done through the design code; thus avoiding the confrontations associated with large scale or controversial development and, significantly reducing the time taken to consider a planning application.