4. Character Areas
Draft Fulbourn Village Design Guide SPD
Representation ID: 67802
Agent: Strutt and Parker LLP
Comments on each character area is limited and we believe a more robust and detailed appraisal of each should be carried out. Otherwise, other than providing a general overview of each area, we would question the purpose of this section and how it helps to guide future development. We would therefore recommend a more robust characterisation of each area is carried out by perhaps using annotated maps as a visual tool which is supported by some text.
I write on behalf of my client, Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd, in connection with the above.
My client welcomes the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the draft Village Design Guide SPD for
We understand that one of the main purposes of the village design guide is to provide a clear design steer to help guide future development in and around Fulbourn. Once adopted, the guide will form material consideration in determining future planning applications for development within the village. It is therefore important that residents, key stakeholders and developers are given the opportunity to make representations to help refine the documents into a purposeful, representative, and sympathetic design guide for the village. This will enable the guide to achieve its purpose of being a clear and useful place making tool, which ensures future development responds positively to and respects the character of the village through its design, scale and layout.
I set out below our views on the relevant section of the guide for your consideration:
3. Community Input
It is essential that the community is involved in this process and feel
that they have a sense of ownership over how the village is
developed in the future.
This section sets out the community aspirations for enhancing the village character and design which includes references to rural setting and important views across open fields (points 2 and 3) but on the same page set out their concerns which include a need for a housing mix and desire to attract local employment
4. Character Areas
The categorisation of character areas provides important reference points and helps to break down the village. This is an important guide for any future development.
Page 6 and 7 talks about the marked village character and the need to retain and strengthen its image by avoiding pastiche replications of existing patterns of developments found on thesuburban and urban fringes of Cambridge. It also talks about the importance of future development having a better appreciation of the context and qualities of Fulbourn;
However , comments on each character area is limited and we believe a more robust and detailed appraisal of each should be carried out. Otherwise, other than providing a general overview of each area, we would question the purpose of this section and how it helps to guide future development. We would therefore recommend a more robust characterisation of each area is carried out by perhaps using annotated maps as a visual tool which is supported by some text.
5. A close relationship with the countryside
Fulboum is surrounded by Green Belt and so its relationship with
the countryside is important in terms of views into and out of the village. This is also important in order to avoid coalescence with Cambridge.
The design guidance section states there are key views out of the village and makes a lot of reference to the importance of the trees.
We are concerned that the key views referenced are not supported by a thorough views assessment which include photographs of each view from locations where the public are likely to see them. Plotting viewpoints in general locations and labelling them as important views could undermine the integrity of the guide.
Therefore , we believe a more detailed assessment should be carried out of all the viewpoints identified on fig.16 to determine the quality of each of the views.
Important views should be those that are appreciated from publically accessible locations and at street scene. Many views whilst assumed important can sometimes be screened by hedgerows/trees/planting , houses, land contours when properly assessed. Apart from the Haggis Gap viewpoint, we are not convinced the other views out of the villages provide 'important' views of the countryside. Fleeting or partial views cannot be considered as important if they can only be appreciated from certain specific locations.
Whilst we understand the desire to try and protect land around the village from development, it is also important to provide a fair and accurate assessment of what are the most important views in and out of the village.
Also, the areas identified as 'Fields with sensitive visual relationship with the Village' does not explain what the sensitive relationship is and from what viewpoints. Some of the fields identified are only viewable from the rear of existing dwellings and so cannot be appreciated as a feature from the public realm. For the purposes of assessing a view, the public realm should be regarded as a place, space, position where people congregate or pass on a regular basis.
We therefore raise concerns with the justification for identifying the field south of the railway line and west of Station Road as having a sensitive visual relationship with the village. The site is surrounded by housing development to the west, south and east, and bound to the north by the railway line. The field is a large open site with limited visual relationship with the village from specific locations within the public realm. The field is only visible at the junction with Church Lane and The Chantry but even at this location the view is dominated by housing and parked cars. We would therefore recommend the designation is removed from the field.
Also the explanation is missing as to why images of only three view points looking towards the village have been included in the guide.
6. A legacy of majestic trees
This section looks at tree coverage in Fulbourn and the importance
they play in forming a vital part of the character of the village.
The design guidance talks about how any development should contribute to this and provides some limited guidance on preferred locations of enhancement. However, there is reference to open views of the countryside which seems out of place when the purpose of the page is to highlight the importance of trees.
The guide should make reference to the potential benefits that development could bring in the terms of enhancements to green corridors, additional tree planting, and soft edges.
The layout of this page could be made a lot clearer in terms of layout. Also for such an important character feature it should be spread across two pages to get a clear message across.
7. Attractive and safe village strets
This section talks about the importance of the historic high streets
to the character of the village and need to protect these.
Several 'Priority mitigation of traffic impacts' areas have been shown on Fig.25. Has a road safety audit been carried out on these areas?
7.1 of the Design Guidance talks about highway design and improvements adopting a style of street appropriate to the village, and uses fig.28 and 29 as examples of this.
7.2 of the Design Guidance states "Carriageways should typically be narrow and slow". Whilst we understand the intention, we believe the language used is too generalising and adversarial to vehicular traffic .Does this relate to the high street or all roads in the village? Narrow carriageways can be used help to moderate traffic speeds but only in suitable locations, particularly in new development. Inserting build out to existing roads or widening existing footpaths to narrow roads is likely to create issues for delivery vehicles , buses, emergency services etc...
With any future growth of the village, there is likely to be an increase in vehicle movements . Therefore , the guide should make provision for this by providing guidance on ways to accommodate and mitigate the impact. We recommend 7.2 should be removed or
replaced with a more balanced statement which acknowledges the need to accommodate all modes of transports in a safe and convenient manner.
8. An improved High Street at the heart of the village
The High Street is generally seen as the main public interaction hub
of any village , and so it is important that any future development respect its character and setting and enhancement is carefully
The design guidance sets out a list of considerations and where improvements can be made to enhance the appearance, connectivity and use of the High Street.
Whilst we agree with the intention of this page, we have a concern with the green arrows- "important views of the countryside beyond"
- seem to be out of place on Fig.30. The countryside cannot be seen from the starting location of the arrows . Also, this page is meant to focus on the high street and therefore as the countryside is not visible from the High Street, these arrows should be removed.
We would recommend focusing on showing examples of high street
improvements that the village would like to see .
10. Integrating larger developments within the village
It is important for any new development to be able to knit into the
existing built form and therefore an assessment of the site context
will be important to demonstrate how this can be achieved.
It is also important that the guide is clear on how to achieve this . We therefore recommend the text in the second paragraph is reworded to be made clear and concise,as some of the text seems to contradict itself.
Fig.39.a - how can open views over fields be retained if it has development on it? Does this mean over undeveloped fields? We recommend this is removed as it does not.
Fig.39.e - all street to be designed as green and pedestrian centred - what does this mean? New streets will need to accommodate vehicles. Whilst some part of developments may be able to accommodate shared surface area, the main routes will need to ensure they meet highway standards in terms of pavement and road widths , street lighting, etc...
The Building Design section is overly prescriptive.
10.9/10.10 - The village has 3 storey forms including 3 storey blocks of flats - Windmill Lane and Cambridge Road contains several three storey dwellings and three storey blocks of flats on prominent locations. Whilst this may not be a style or form that is preferred in the village , they are existing feature which add to the variety of the built form.
10.11 - Setting building heights based upon the height of trees is not an appropriate way to maintain the setting the village. Trees form an important part of any village and contribute toward soften development. However, they should not be used to justify maximum heights.
10.12 - "Buildings should not be repetitive" is a very general requirement. There are many examples of contemporary housing developments which use this to good effect , and so should be ruled out.
11. Appropriate scale, materials and details
It is important that new development responds to the local context
and the guide can be used to identify the variety of positive features and styles.
We are concerned that the images in the 'Details and materials that make Fulbourn special' section are very selective and do not reflect the overall variety in the village particularly in terms of fenestration design and arrangements, roof design and form etc...
12. Development that is inappropriate for Fulbourn
This page is overly prescriptive and make very specific
requirements to design , scale and features rather than being positioned as preferences.
Most of the text and images on this page appear to be a wish list of requirements which could be argued stifles innovation and creativity. Clearly, the guide should not be fixing specific design requirements as its purpose is to guide future development not dictate it.
With regards to sections 10, 11, and 12, we are of the view that this part of the guide is overly prescriptive, particularly pages 15 and 18. We would recommend that these pages are removed and the other pages revisited by toning down the language used. Otherwise, we are concerned that the guide would be contrary to paragraph 126 of the NPPF states that "...level of detail and degree of prescription should be tailored to the circumstances in each place, and should allow a suitable degree of variety where this would be justified". We understand the need to achieve and meet high design expectations but this should be allowed to develop through a design process that is context led.
Aside from the above, my client is generally supportive of the purpose of the design guide and its aspirations to ensure any new development within the village respects the character and setting of the built and natural environment. We therefore believe these comments/observations will assist in the preparation and maknig of a well balanced and well thought final design guide.
If you would like further clarification on any of the above comments then please do not hesitate to contact me. In the meantime, I trust these comments are of assistance to you and we look forward to seeing and commenting on any further iterations.