Highclere and Penwood Village Design Statement: Background and Purposes
Entering from Newbury on the A343 - an image from the design statement
A Design Statement describes the qualities and characteristics of the area appreciated and valued by local people, in the form of design guidance for prospective developers. Village communities have a special and unique knowledge and appreciation of local character and distinctiveness in their own village. Village Design Statements offers an opportunity for local people to enter the planning process at an earlier stage and to make a positive contribution to the design of new development.
Development in the countryside
Most people who live in the countryside are reluctant to see new development change their environment. But the countryside must change if it is to stay alive – farmers need new buildings; villages need affordable housing for young families; maybe there is a need for a new health centre or some buildings for local employment; people want to extend or alter their homes. Whatever the scale and type of new development, we believe that two important principles apply:
- new buildings should follow in the traditions of their setting, reflecting the important characteristics that make each locality special and different from other places;
- standard designs, which could belong in any suburb or industrial estate, are not appropriate in the countryside.
These differences of character can be called local diversity. The stone houses of North Yorkshire look very different from the colour washed, rendered cottages of Cornish fishing villages. All of our countryside and villages have their own special characteristics, and all new development should work with them to reinforce local diversity, instead of spreading more suburban and standard designs.
Helping the planners
Most planning authorities would share these ideas, but they can only give a general indication of local character in an area. It is us as local people who understand what makes our village special. By creating a Village Design Statement we can guide the planning authority and advise would-be developers, from householders’ alterations to large-scale and complex projects. A Village Design Statement for our parish will make it easier to insist on new buildings that are responsive to local character, and will help to defend local diversity.
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