Spelthorne Local Plan Preferred Options: policies


Policy DS1: Place shaping

  1. The Council will require a high standard in the design and layout of new development. Proposals for new development should demonstrate that they will:
  1. create buildings and places that are attractive with their own distinct identity;
  2. respect and make a positive contribution to the street scene and the character of the area in which they are situated; and
  3. pay due regard to the scale, height, proportions, building lines, layout, materials and other characteristics of adjoining buildings and land.

Impact on neighbours

  1. Proposals for new development should demonstrate that they will achieve a satisfactory relationship to adjoining properties avoiding adverse and un-neighbourly impacts in terms of loss of privacy, daylight or sunlight, or overbearing effect due to bulk and proximity or outlook.


  1. All new development will be designed to meet the needs of all users and be accessible to all. This includes the setting of the building in the wider environment, the location of the building on the plot, the gradient of the plot, transport infrastructure and public realm.


  1. All new development should:
  1. incorporate landscape to enhance the setting of the development;
  2. avoid the loss of trees and other vegetation worthy of retention and supplemented with additional high quality planting, or where retention is not feasible or desirable provide for high quality replacement planting; and
  3. provide for suitable boundary treatment to enhance the setting.


  1. All new development will ensure maximum opportunities for natural security through layout and design to reduce opportunities for crime and antisocial behaviour. Secured by Design standards should be incorporated.

Safe, connected and efficient streets

  1. All new development will be designed to:
  1. ensure it connects appropriately to existing street patterns and creates safe and accessible spaces. Particular regard shall be given to maximise opportunities for pedestrian and cycle movement and the creation of a high quality public realm; and
  2. deliver layouts which offer safe, attractive, legible and permeable routes which are suitable for all users, linking people with places through active and sustainable travel choices delivered to best practice standards.

Major developments and allocated sites

  1. Given the size, function and proposed density of major developments, particularly those exceeding 50 dwellings, tall buildings and/or allocated sites on former Green Belt land, it may not always be desirable to reflect locally distinct patterns of development. These sites should create their own identity to ensure cohesive and vibrant neighbourhoods. High rise development in appropriate locations will be expected to be supported by a visual impact assessment and demonstrate a positive contribution to the skyline through its architectural merits. In Staines, the Masterplan will provide site specific guidance on the design of larger and tall buildings. On a case-by-case basis, it may be appropriate for larger developments to be shaped by a design panel review process at the applicant's expense, and in conjunction with the Council.

Sustainability Appraisal Indicators

Reasoned Justification

High quality in the design and layout of new development is fundamental to achieving identified needs and creating places where people want to live and will thrive. Design is not just limited to the appearance of development, it includes many other elements such as layout and orientation which can contribute to creating safe and secure environments and will impact how much energy occupiers use over a buildings lifetime. The design of the built environment has a direct effect on how places are used. The relationship between buildings, spaces and landscape is important as well as the more detailed design and materials used. Good design will influence how people move around our settlements, how they interact and how places make people feel. When considering applications, the Council place a high value on good design because of its importance and how it affects people's daily lives.

The NPPF states that the creation of high quality buildings and places is fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, creates better places in which to live and work and helps make development acceptable to communities. Urban design and architecture can contribute to health outcomes through encouragement of more active lifestyles. Development should be encouraged to create places that result in mixed communities. It should cater for the needs of different types of people, including the young and old, encourage walking and cycling, improve access to public transport, and ensure that new development connects with existing parks and open spaces for recreation. Building exteriors and public realm should be designed in a way that contributes to pedestrian friendly environments.

Planning applications must be supported by design statements and the Council expects these to show how all the issues covered in the policy have been addressed. The level of detail required will be proportionate to the scale and nature of the development and for some small scale proposals, such as domestic extensions, some of the criteria may not be relevant.

The Council's current SPD on design21 elaborates on this policy and is intended to be a practical guide to help achieve high standards of design. It is aimed at a wide audience which includes home owners, architects, developers and those affected by planning proposals.

[21] Design of residential extensions and new residential development

Monitoring Indicators



Data Source

Number of new developments achieving the "Built for Life" quality mark


Planning applications and appeals

Percentage of appeals allowed for applications originally refused for design reasons

Reduction in the percentage of appeals allowed that are considered to be poorly designed

Planning appeals

Key Evidence

  • Building for Life 12: The sign of a good place to live (Design Council, Third Edition 2013)
  • By Design, Urban Design in the planning system: towards better practice (DETR, 2000)
  • Active by Design: Designing places for healthy lives - A short guide (Design Council, 2014)
  • Technical housing standards - nationally described space standards (DCLG, 2015)
  • Secured by Design, Design Guides (Various years, available online at: http://www.securedbydesign.com/industry-advice-and-guides/)

Sustainability Appraisal Alternative Options

Alternative Option 1: Include a policy encouraging strong local distinctiveness and require developments to have regard to the local character and context. Consider the relationship between buildings, spaces and landscape as well as detailed design and materials. Refer to specific density figures similar to that in the existing Core Strategy.

Reject approach. Prescribing densities formally is likely to restrict the efficient use of land and as such there may be negative impacts on objective 4 in future.

Alternative Option 2: Include a policy encouraging strong local distinctiveness and require developments to have regard to the local character and context. Consider the relationship between buildings, spaces and landscape as well as detailed design and materials. Include a minimum density but do not set a maximum.

Preferred approach. Whilst design and character will need to be appropriate for the wider area, referring to specific density figures is likely to negatively impact the efficient use of land and may restrict creative solutions to maximising yield. Density measures using 'dwellings per hectare' alone are considered to inadequately fully account for a range of planning factors.

Alternative Option 3: Do not include a policy on place shaping. Have a more flexible approach to the design of the built environment and surrounds. Rely on the NPPF.

Reject alternative. This approach would limit the extent to which development takes account of the local context.

Core Strategy 2009 policies to be replaced

    • Policy EN1: Design of New Development
    • Policy EN2: Replacement and Extension of Dwellings in the Green Belt including Plotland Areas

Policy DS2: Sustainable Design and Renewable/Low Carbon Energy Generation

  1. Sustainable design and construction will be integral to new development in Spelthorne borough. All planning applications22 must include evidence that the below will be addressed:
  1. Maximising energy efficiency and integrating the use of renewable and low carbon energy (demonstrated though an energy statement);
  2. Maximise opportunities for passive solar gain and passive cooling through the orientation and layout of development;
  3. Incorporate sustainable construction and demolition techniques that provide for the efficient use of minerals including a proportion of recycled or secondary aggregates, and encourage the re-use of construction and demolition waste at source or its separation and collection for recycling.
  4. In residential development (including replacements, conversions and subdivisions) achieve water efficiency of 110 litres per person per day23 and where feasible provide rainwater harvesting techniques;
  5. Flexibility and adaptability, allowing future modification of use or layout, facilitating future refurbishment and retrofitting;
  6. Incorporate active electrical vehicle charging points in accordance with the latest guidance issued by Surrey County Council24;
  7. Where CHP distribution networks already exist (or are proposed), new developments are required to connect to them or be connection-ready, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that utilising a different energy supply would be more sustainable or connection is not feasible;
  8. Incorporate measures for the secure storage of cycles and storage of waste including recyclable waste;
  9. Protect existing biodiversity and include opportunities to achieve net gains in biodiversity as well as greening of the urban environment;
  1. Applications for all development will need to be accompanied by a Sustainable Construction Checklist.
  2. Proposals for zero carbon development are strongly supported and the development of renewable, low and zero carbon and decentralised energy, including (C) CHP25 distribution networks, is strongly supported and encouraged.
  3. All new buildings on greenfield sites are required to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent below the relevant Target Emission Rate (TER) set out in the Building Regulations 2010 (as amended) (Part L). This should be achieved through the provision of appropriate renewable and low carbon energy technologies in the locality of the development and improvements to the energy performance of the building.
  4. Applications for major development are expected to include information setting out how the energy hierarchy has been applied and how sustainable design and construction practice will be incorporated. Smaller developments (including refurbishment, conversion and extensions to existing buildings) should include information proportionate to the scale of the development proposed.

[22] With the exception of applications for advertisement consent or prior notification

[23] through compliance with the Building Regulations which state that planning conditions can set the requirement to 110 litres rather than 125 litres.

[24 Currently incorporated in Surrey CC Vehicular and Cycle Parking Guidance (January 2018).

[25] * (C)CHP refers to both combined cooling heating and power (CCHP) and combined heating and power (CHP).

Sustainability Appraisal Indicators


      • Zero carbon development means development where emissions from all regulated energy use are eliminated or offset. This definition may be reviewed in the future.
      • The definition of major development includes residential development of 10 dwellings or more (gross) and non-residential development of 1,000 sqm gross new floorspace or more.
      • Sustainability and energy statements should set out a level of detail proportionate to the scale of development.

Reasoned Justification

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) considers climate change to be one of the most crucial issues facing our communities today, and the increasing occurrence of severe climate-change related weather events is just a reminder of the urgency of this issue. The RTPI have asked the Government must reintroduce the requirement for all new-build homes to be zero-carbon26 and resources should be made available to help existing homes become carbon neutral.

The Council considers that sustainable design is indivisible from good design and that requiring sustainable design features in development is justified.The NPPF (para 148) sets out that the planning system should help to shape places in ways that minimise vulnerability and improve resilience and support renewable and low carbon energy and associated infrastructure. The NPPF also sets out that planning should provide net gains in biodiversity.

The Planning Policy Guidance note titled Housing: Optional Technical Standards, sets out standards which can be adopted in Local Plan policies which go beyond the mandatory requirements of the Building Regulations for water efficiency and accessibility.

The South East of England is likely to face significant challenges from changing climate and weather patterns. To avoid the costs associated with retrofitting and replacement new buildings should be future proofed, suited to, and easily adaptable for, the range of climate conditions and weather patterns we are likely to see over the next century, and adaptable to new technologies. The buildings we build today are likely to be with us into the next century, therefore it is beneficial to build adaptable and efficient developments.

The UK Government is seeking to meet the UK's climate change commitments cost-effectively, including promoting innovation to make a cost-effective transition to a low carbon economy. As part of its strategy, the Government is keeping energy efficiency standards under review, recognising that existing measures to increase energy efficiency of new buildings should be allowed time to become more established. Policy DS2 supports making sustainable construction and design integral to new developments in Spelthorne, to assist with a cost-effective transition to a low carbon economy.

The purpose of the checklist is to highlight sustainable construction matters that developers can consider. It is not intended to duplicate the elements of sustainable construction that are incorporated into the building regulations. It will enable the Council to assess which sustainable construction principles have been considered in development proposals for new build and/or refurbishment of existing buildings, but does not seek to prescribe a set standard or requirement. The Council encourages a holistic approach where sustainable construction considerations are taken fully into account from initial project thinking through to development completion. This approach should achieve high quality sustainable development which is responsive to people's needs and can help avoid unnecessary project delay.

[26] A zero-carbon homes policy was axed in 2015 by then business secretary Sajid Javid, without consultation, a year before the policy was supposed to be introduced.


Monitoring Indicators



Data Source

Megawatts of installed small scale low and zero carbon energy capacity

Increase in number

Ofgem Feed in Tariff quarterly reports

Low and zero carbon decentralised energy networks

Increase in number

Planning applications and appeals

Number of new dwellings complying with higher water efficiency standard

All new homes to comply with standard

Building regulations final certificates

Key Evidence

      • RTPI (2019) Planning for a Smart Energy Future

Sustainability Appraisal Alternative Options

Alternative Option 1: Do not include a policy and consider proposals on a site by site basis, having regard to other policies in the local plan. Rely on the national policy and guidance.

Reject alternative. Such an approach is not considered to be appropriate as national policy requires us to consider the impact of renewable energy schemes. This approach offers less certainty to developers.

Alternative Option 2: Include a policy which requires a development's energy to be obtained from renewable/low carbon sources, connect to decentralised sources where reasonable, and support community led schemes.

Preferred approach. This approach provides more positive impacts in terms of pollution, climate change, transport and water.

Core Strategy 2009 policies to be replaced

  • No relevant policies.

 Policy DS3: Heritage, Conservation and Landscape

  1. The Council will seek to preserve, conserve and enhance as appropriate the architectural, historic and landscape character of the Borough. The Council will also expect all new development proposals to make a positive contribution to the environment and local distinctiveness of the Borough.


  1. Proposals for development which may affect any heritage asset (designated or undesignated) will be required to demonstrate, through the submission of appropriate appraisals and investigations and in a Design and Access Statement, that the asset and its setting will be conserved and enhanced.
  2. Proposals for new development which may harm any heritage asset (designated or undesignated) will only be granted where it can be demonstrated that the harm or loss of the asset is necessary to achieve other gains or substantial public benefits that outweigh the harm or loss having regard to all other possible options for retaining the asset.
  3. The Council will keep under review all non-designated assets identified as being of local importance or distinctiveness and will, as necessary, identify new assets which contribute to the local character or distinctiveness of the area.
  4. Where any heritage asset appears to be at risk, either through neglect, decay or other threats, and where its loss would cause significant harm, the Council will take appropriate action to secure the future of the asset through the identification of viable uses consistent with its conservation. It will also provide advice and work with owners to secure the enhancement of the asset and its setting for the benefit of the local character.

Conservation Areas

  1. The Council will continue to preserve and enhance the character and setting of the existing conservation areas. The Council will expect proposals for new development to demonstrate that they will make a positive contribution to the setting and local distinctiveness of the conservation area and will preserve and enhance its character.


  1. Development which would have a significant detrimental effect on the landscape setting of the Borough will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that the harm is outweighed by substantial public benefits or other benefits that outweigh the harm to or loss of the landscape setting.
  2. The Council will ensure that, wherever possible, new development has full regard to the existing landscape character of the area, avoids harm, and provides for the positive enhancement of the landscape by the design, scale and setting of any new building.
  3. The Council will work with its partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors to develop and secure the implementation of projects designed to improve and maintain the landscape, particularly areas which have become degraded, derelict or contaminated and where remediation is necessary to provide opportunities for landscape enhancement and public enjoyment.

Sustainability Appraisal Indicators

Reasoned Justification

The Borough contains an important legacy of historic buildings including nearly 200 statutorily Listed Buildings and a further 160 buildings and structures of local architectural or historic interest. Many of these are located within the eight Conservation Areas.

The NPPF requires local authorities to identify opportunities for the conservation, enjoyment and enhancement of heritage assets and their setting whilst having regard to the need to reflect and enhance local character and distinctiveness.

The NPPF also requires that new development is visually attractive and contributes to and enhances the natural and local environment and is sympathetic to local character and landscape.

Monitoring Indicators



Data Source

Number of buildings on EH Risk Register

No loss of Heritage Assets

UK Heritage at Risk Register

Number of buildings repaired and refurbished

No loss of Heritage Assets

Planning applications and surveys

Number of schemes in Conservation Areas providing positive enhancement

No loss of Heritage Assets

Planning applications and surveys

Area of land restored or enhanced

No derelict or degraded land

Survey and minerals and waste planning applications

 Key Evidence

    • Register of Heritage Assets
    • Listed Buildings (statutory list)
    • Local List of Buildings and Structures of Historic Interest
    • UK Heritage at Risk Register
    • Conservation Areas
    • Landscape Character Areas

Sustainability Appraisal Alternative Options

Alternative Option 1: Do not include a local policy on heritage conservation and landscape. Instead rely on national legislation and guidance.

Discount option. This is not considered a feasible option. It is vital to protect the culture and heritage of the Borough, through maintaining good design practises and preserving historically important areas. This option does not have regard for the local context of Spelthorne.

Alternative Option 2: Include a policy on heritage, taking account of the local context. Encourage opportunities for enhancement and preservation of heritage assets. Recognise the value and role of conservation areas.

Preferred approach. This would support the protection and enhancement of the landscape, buildings, sites and features of archaeological, historical or architectural interest and their settings.

Core Strategy 2009 policies to be replaced

    • Policy EN5 Building of Architectural and Historic Interest
    • Policy EN6 Conservation Areas, Historic Landscapes, Parks and Gardens
    • Policy EN8 Protecting and Improving the Landscape and Biodiversity