Liberal Democrat Councillor Responds to Dacorum Borough's Draft Design Guide for New Housing Developments

80k housingDraft Strategic Design Guide SPD

Comment by Cllr Nick Hollinghurst (1250019)

Comment ID DSDG39

Response Date 16/08/20 23:50

Question 1 - Part 1: Design Process

Do you consider that the documents have identified the key characteristics of Dacorum and its wider Hertfordshire context?

No

If no, please explain your reasons along with any suggestions for changes or additions to the key characteristics.

It is a thorough and impressive document and I note that it is written on the basis that
"DBC has declared a Climate Emergency and is committed to fostering genuinely sustainable communities that support a zero-carbon future."

This I agree with but feel this should have been more explicitly stated at appropriate points in Parts 2 and 3.

The following sentence is
"Sustainability needs to come in the form of technology"

This is obviously true, but rather more important is the need for this to be firmly underpinned by changes in social, institutional and political attitudes that lead to fundamental changes both in perceptions of the global situation and in everybody's behaviour.

Furthermore it refers to national-level planning policies and guidance without describing in any way what those might be and in particular not outlining the statistical and evidential basis of the quantities of housing with which we might be expected to have to deal.

Question 2 - Part 2: Design Principles

Do you consider that the detailed design principles (as set out under each of the 10 broad categories) will be effective in securing high quality development?

No


If no, please explain your reasons along with any suggestions for changes or additions to the draft detailed design principles.

In many ways an inspiring document but already looking out of date in some areas.

In particular I liked

2.3 Make Efficient Use of Land
3.1 Provide Housing and Facilities for Different Ages
3.3 Ensure All Places are Accessible to Everyone
3.4 Integrate Play
4.2 Be Socially Connected
4.5 Be Naturally Connected
(especially 4.5.1 Safe, direct and attractive walking and cycling routes to nearby open
spaces and landscapes, conveniently located for all residents and visitors.)
5.2 Create a Clear, Flexible Hierarchy of Streets
5.4 Create Opportunities for Interaction
6.1 Housing Fit for the 21st Century and Beyond
7.1 Create Attractive, Safe and Usable Walking & Cycling Routes. (an excellent design aim)
7.3 Give Prominence to Health
8.2 Enhance Biodiversity and Habitats
8.3. Drain Places Naturally
8.7.1 Installation of solar panels and battery storage in homes and commercial buildings.
Any buildings that do not have solar panels integrated should be future proofed to
enable future installation of panels.

However I feel the following need some modification.

4.7 Be Sustainably Connected
This should be expanded by reference to cycle parking and e-bike charging at
appropriate points along main bus routes (for multi-mode journeys e.g. cycle to get bus
to station) and also by references to taxi park/pick up points with EV top up facilities
However, it is good to see that 4.7.6 envisages pod access (if that ever happens).

5.10 Reduce Car Dominance
This needs a lot of amplification.
Speed limits of 20 mph are needed for all residential areas and past schools.
Estates need to be built with increased power supplies.
Public charging points for cars and e-bikes need to be provided in at least 50% of
public car parks and enough electrical capacity for homes to be able to install home
chargers for cars and e-bikes.

5.10.2 Traffic calming measures that are integral to the street's design rather than an
afterthought. (well of course!) Reliance on speed bumps, cushions and similar
mechanisms is strongly discouraged.
This paragraph is very old fashioned and should take into account modern traffic
calming measures like low profile speed tables across most of the width of the road
(apart from cycle channels at edges).

Tring example - the speed cushions in Grove Road (30 mph max) do work but have
given rise over the years to many complaints, but the new speed tables in Christchurch
Road (20 mph max) have been well accepted with (after a year) no complaints at all
but are still effective as reminders to drivers.

5.11 Car Parking Integration
Generally good especially 5.11.3 Shared space surfaces and Home Zone design
principles in tertiary streets.
However I feel parking on footways must be stopped altogether. There needs
to be a recognition that tradesmen need space to park their vans and also many
employers allow and expect their employees to take a van home so that they can set
off from home early to get to a distant job e.g. somewhere in London or the Midlands.
Post covid - with more people working from home this is likely to be an increasing
trend as more people will be based at home for part of the week.
.

6.4.4 … Glazing to all habitable rooms should not be less than 20% of the internal floor
area of the room.
The glazing will need to be a type of glass which can minimise solar heating in one
direction and inhibit loss of heat in the other ("reverse greenhouse effect").

6.5 Storage and Utilities
It is very important to ensure that the garages are wide enough for people to be able to
comfortably get in and out of cars in the garage - or the garage WILL end up being a
store shed as per usual!

6.7 Discreet Utilities
6.6.3 (sic) Outdoor utility/meter boxes that are integrated into the dwelling design and
are not located on the principal elevation.
Meters are moving to become "smart" and capable of being read remotely. This should
be recognised and should assist towards the achievement of this design aim.

7.2 Incorporate Cycle Parking
The provision of low power 13 amp e-bike charging points should be mentioned in each
of 7.2.1, 7.2.2 and 7.2.3

7.5 Incorporate Food Production

Sorry, but whoever wrote that has never tried to grow vegetables. It's REALLY difficult,
the season is short and you need lots of space. This is just not practical and will result
in neglected, unsightly, neglected beds and plots. Traditional allotment gardens are
practical, desirable and acceptable - preferably as half-plots.

7.6 Mitigate the Effects of Pollution
We must electrify transport fast. We need By Laws across urban areas of Dacorum to
ensure 1) the growing number of home deliveries are made in electric vans, 2) all taxis
are EVs or petrol PHEVs, 3) all buses are Diesel Mild Hybrids and 4) for surviving
internal combustion vehicles the non-idling regulations must be strictly enforced.

8.6 Conserve Energy and Reduce CO2 Emissions
8.6.3 Discreet, on-street electric car charging points, such as in lamp posts, especially
in neighbourhood centres to a quantum that mees local authority requirements.
Sorry, this in NOT the thing to do. You can only get slow charging from a street
light. It's unreliable and you could have the circuit feeding multiple lights all going out at
the same time. Street lights are not metered and power use is estimated - the county
council would end up supplying a few people free electricity with the added cost of
frequent blackouts. Far better to facilitate home charging supplemented by fast
chargers in car parks.

9.3 Anticipate Changes in Mobility
Maybe pods in the future. e.g. Tring Town Centre to/from Station might make a good
pod loop route in 2035 when we cease making internal combustion engine vehicles.

10.3. Make Maintenance Easy.
10.3.1 Use of materials that are high quality, long-lasting and low in maintenance.
A good principle but this should NOT include unrecyclable uPVC please!

Question 3 - Part 3: Employment Uses Guidance

Do you consider that the guidance on designing employment buildings and areas will meet the future needs of Dacorum? No

If yes, please provide your comments along with any supporting information you may have.

There is here no recognition that not only is it urgent for us to convert all transport (though perhaps not HGVs) to electric propulsion, but the number of cars will have to be reduced from the current 30 million to 20 - 25 million across UK (with emphasis on urban locations), which implies an increase in public transport of all types. We need to consider restoring a Park & Ride scheme with chargers in the park and a route that serves station and Maylands.