Publication Local Plan, Chapter 19: Design

Creating a fairer Salford by:

  • Ensuring that new developments are designed to be inclusive to all
  • Increasing the access for everyone to well-designed places and developments
  • Protecting, sustaining and enhancing the distinctive character of different parts of Salford
  • Using good design to create safer places with higher levels of amenity
  • Ensuring that all new homes provide a high quality living environment

19.1 Good design is essential to the delivery of attractive, sustainable and well-functioning places where people want to live, work and visit. It helps to achieve a high quality of life, support economic growth, and meet the challenges of climate change. It can promote pride and a sense of identity, and foster a successful image that attracts investment. It is also inclusive, enabling all people and communities to prosper, and helping people to live more active and healthier lives.

19.2 High quality design is a positive investment, both for society as a whole and for developers in terms of increasing the attractiveness, marketability and long-term financial performance of their schemes. Any short-term savings that might be made by compromising on design quality would be likely to be hugely outweighed by the long-term negative impacts on the city’s economic, social and environmental sustainability.

19.3 Good design will be vital for ensuring that Salford and its neighbourhoods retain and enhance their local character as the city evolves. It can also make a considerable difference in the degree to which local communities welcome and accept new developments, and therefore to the success of those schemes.

19.4 It will be important that all aspects of design are properly addressed, ranging from broad issues such as the layout, scale and massing of buildings, to more detailed issues such as the architectural coherence and use of materials that are fundamental to the quality of local townscapes. Developments need to be designed to be successful over the long-term, whether that be in terms of being able to adapt to changing circumstances or only using render if it will look as good after ten years as when it was applied. Good design will require close liaison with relevant statutory bodies from the early stages of the design process, but should also involve the public wherever possible in accordance with Policy F1. New development that fails to take the opportunity to improve the local character and distinctiveness, and quality of, an area and how if functions, will be refused. The city council will also seek to ensure that development does not materially diminish in quality between planning permission being granted and completion on site.

19.5 This chapter focuses on design, but many policies in other chapters of this plan also have significant design implications, such as in terms of the provision of green infrastructure (Policy GI1), the management of surface water and sustainable drainage (Policy WA5), the application of the transport hierarchy (Policy A2), the provision of recreation facilities within a site (Policy R2), and the protection and enhancement of biodiversity (Policy BG2). More detailed guidance on design issues is provided in a range of supplementary planning documents. Advice can also be found in publications produced by other organisations [1].

Policy D1 - Design principles 

All development shall achieve a high design quality, consistent with the ten characteristics set out in the National Design Guide (or any subsequent amendments) [2]: 

  1. Context: enhances the surroundings
  2. Identity: attractive and distinctive
  3. Built form: a coherent pattern of development
  4. Movement: accessible and easy to move around
  5. Nature: enhanced and optimised
  6. Public spaces: safe, social and inclusive
  7. Uses: mixed and integrated
  8. Homes and Buildings: functional, health and sustainable
  9. Resources: efficient and resilient
  10. Lifespan: made to last 

Consistency must also be achieved with the following two additional principles in the interests of achieving the objectives of this plan as set out in Chapter 3: 

  1. Active design: buildings and spaces that promote physical activity as part of everyday life
  2. Socially inclusive: a place for everyone, that promotes social interaction. 

All Design and Access statements shall clearly explain how development delivers all of the above principles, and the other design-related policies of this plan. 

Developments that raise significant design issues will be expected, where appropriate, to undergo a local design review [3] before any planning application is determined.

Local character

19.6 Local identity and distinctiveness are important elements of successful places, helping to engender pride in an area. There is a risk that neighbourhoods will become increasingly indistinguishable as the function of places evolves and the economy becomes ever more globalised, particularly given the scale of development activity within Salford. Protecting and enhancing the local character of areas therefore becomes particularly important, and design has a central role in this.

19.7 As a result, it will be important that developments are designed to protect and take advantage of any distinctive characteristics that make a positive contribution to an area. The first priority should be to contribute to a successful place overall, rather than considering the design of the development in isolation, ensuring that it responds well to its context and local history.

Policy D2 - Local character and distinctiveness 

Development shall protect, enhance and respond to any positive character and distinctiveness of the local area, and contribute towards local identity. It shall be a positive addition to the surrounding area, being integrated within the townscape and landscape. 

In particular, development shall have regard to the following characteristics of the local area: 

  1. Topography and landscape features;
  2. Historic assets and features, including views of and from them;
  3. Pattern, size and arrangement of street blocks, plots and buildings, including building lines;
  4. Scale and shape of buildings, including height, massing, silhouettes and roofscapes;
  5. Vertical and horizontal rhythms, for example created by window arrangements and architectural composition;
  6. Materials, boundary treatments and landscaping;
  7. Vistas, panoramas and views of natural and built landmarks; and
  8. Memories and associations including an area’s main (or former) uses, local traditions, social history and cultural expression.

New buildings shall use a consistent architectural style, individual elements adding up to a coherent whole, designed to relate to the positive context of its surroundings.  Buildings shall have a sufficient texture, depth and detailing to provide visual interest, particularly at street level where buildings will need to relate to a human scale. 

Where it is deemed that a deliberate contrast to certain characteristics would benefit the design, or to create a development that is highly sustainable, the development shall still relate to the points above and justify any non-compliant areas. 

Where there is no discernible or well-developed local character, developments shall contribute to the creation of a distinctive, integrated and coherent place.

Layout and access

19.8 The careful layout of highways, public spaces, private spaces and buildings is a vital component of high quality design. It can ensure that new developments function as an integral part of the wider area rather than being separated from it. Good layouts can help to promote walking, cycling and public transport use, and are easy for people to find their way around. A layout based around a grid, or distorted grid, will often be appropriate and the use of cul-de-sacs should generally be avoided wherever possible. All layouts should also be designed taking into consideration the requirements of policies GI1 and WA5.

Policy D3 - Layout and access 

The layout of spaces and buildings shall be designed to ensure that developments: 

  1. Are easy and safe to physically access, move through and around, including for those with constrained mobility and also for the emergency services;
  2. Maximising opportunities for the use of more sustainable modes of travel in accordance with the transport hierarchy in Policy A2;
  3. Are easy to navigate, using features to provide landmarks, vistas and wayfinding tools, and making use of the layout to protect and enhance views that are important for navigation;
  4. Are arranged to provide appropriate drop off, loading and parking, whilst still promoting walking and cycling as the preferred modes of transport in accordance with Policies A3 and A7;
  5. Where appropriate, use buildings to clearly define the spaces around them, including through the continuity of street frontages and consistent use of building lines;
  6. Are of a scale, height and massing sufficient to provide enclosure to surrounding spaces, whilst not being intimidating or unduly dominating the skyline or townscape;
  7. Locate principal frontages to face the most important public space or highway, whilst also providing a similar level of visual interest on other prominent frontages; and
  8. Locate main entrances on principal frontages, ensuring it is easy to identify and access.


19.9 Spaces make an important contribution to the character and attractiveness of an area, and can also contribute to the significance of heritage assets. However, poorly defined and poorly lit spaces that have no clear function can detract from environmental quality, reducing safety and security. Surface car parking can have a highly detrimental impact on the appearance of an area unless it is carefully located and designed.

19.10 The design of public spaces needs to be seen as an integral part of the overall design process rather than something separate. The relationship between different types of space needs to be carefully managed so as to avoid any confusion or conflict over their roles, and boundary treatments can play an important role in this.

Policy D4 - Spaces 

All spaces shall be accessible, where appropriate, to everyone who wants to use them and be designed to have a clear purpose and role, which is apparent to all potential users.

Developments and other proposals shall: 

  1. Take opportunities to incorporate new spaces and respond positively to existing spaces;
  2. Provide appropriate levels of activity, particularly at ground floor level, that encourage a variety of uses in spaces and offer the natural surveillance required to make those spaces useable and safe;
  3. Carefully place street furniture, signage and other objects within public spaces, to avoid clutter and unnecessary physical or visual obstacles, responding to the nature and use of the space in question and in particular the needs of visually impaired persons;
  4. Make appropriate use of public and private spaces at all times, including the creation of sensitive lighting schemes that enable evening use without an unacceptable impact on residential amenity and the visually impaired;
  5. Provide shelter where people are likely to gather, for example through the location and design of buildings and landscaping;
  6. Minimise surface car parking and ensure that it does not dominate, or detract from, the streetscene or waterside locations;
  7. Include provision for the long term maintenance and management of any public spaces that form part of, or are needed by, the overall development, in accordance with Policies GI1 and BG2; and
  8. Incorporate public and private spaces that are integral to the proposed development. 

The design of public spaces shall be consistent with efforts to maximise green infrastructure, in accordance with Policy GI1. 

Public spaces shall connect to walking and cycling networks, and be designed to respond to desire lines. 

Boundary treatments may be required where private spaces adjoin public spaces, and shall be carefully designed to respond to local character, utilising green infrastructure and providing visual permeability where compatible with the functions of the adjoining public and private spaces.


19.11 If buildings and spaces in Salford are to be popular and successful then they must provide a high level of amenity for their users. Poor amenity may result in high vacancy levels in buildings and only limited use of public and private spaces. New buildings and spaces need to be designed not only to ensure that their own users and occupiers have a good level of amenity, but also that they protect the amenity of the users of other developments and places.

19.12 Tall buildings can raise particular issues, such as in terms of overshadowing and microclimate impacts, and so require special care. Higher density locations, such as City Centre Salford and Salford Quays, as well as some historic buildings, can present challenges in terms of maintaining suitable separation distances, but some flexibility and creative design should still enable both good amenity and high design quality to be achieved.

Policy D5 - Amenity 

Development shall ensure that it: 

  1. Provides all potential users with an acceptable level of amenity; and
  2. Does not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of the users of other buildings and spaces. 

Amenity includes, but is not limited to, issues of: 

  1. Space, both internal and external, and public and private
  2. Layout
  3. Aspect
  4. Privacy
  5. Sunlight
  6. Daylight
  7. Temperature and microclimate
  8. Pollution (see also ‘Pollution and hazards’ chapter)

Separation distances 

Development shall maintain suitable separation distances between the windows of habitable rooms in dwellings and the windows and walls of other properties, to ensure that an appropriate level of amenity is provided for all residential occupiers. 

The following minimum distances shall be maintained from the principal windows of habitable rooms in dwellings: 

  1. 21 metres to facing principal windows of habitable residential rooms, and windows of other uses that could result in significant overlooking;
  2. 13 metres to other walls that are one storey higher; and
  3. 9 metres to other walls of a similar height.

Shorter distances will be permitted where they are consistent with the character of the area, such as the high-density nature of City Centre Salford and Salford Quays, or are necessary to secure the positive reuse of an historic building, provided that it can be demonstrated that an appropriate level of amenity for occupiers would be achieved. Longer distances may be required where one of the buildings is more than one storey higher than the other or where land levels vary between buildings. 

For the purposes of this policy, habitable rooms are defined as principal living rooms, principal dining areas, bedrooms, and, in dwellings where there is no separate dining room, kitchens. 


All development shall be designed to ensure that it does not have any unacceptable impact on the local microclimate, for example in terms of the speed, direction or tunnelling of wind, or lead to the trapping of air pollution.  A wind assessment shall be submitted with planning applications for tall buildings and other proposals likely to have significant wind implications.

Design and crime

19.13 Crime and the fear of crime can have a major impact on quality of life and the success of individual developments and places. Increasing security and minimising opportunities for crime and terrorism are therefore important objectives, but solutions should not be delivered in a way that reduces the attractiveness of places for example by resulting in a hostile appearance that actively gives the impression of significant crime problems. This problem can be overcome through careful design that integrates crime prevention features into the overall design of a building or space, rather than adding them on at the end.

19.14 Human activity and the overlooking of spaces can help to discourage crime by effectively providing surveillance. For the same reason it is important to avoid concealed places where people can hide. All of this requires careful consideration of lighting levels as well as the siting and design of buildings and landscaping.

Policy D6 - Design and crime 

Development shall be designed to: 

  1. Minimise the fear of crime;
  2. Minimise opportunities for crime and anti-social behaviour;
  3. Minimise the threat of terrorism; and
  4. Provide surveillance to support personal and property security. 

In particular, development shall be designed to: 

  1. Allow for natural surveillance of public spaces, means of access and parking areas;
  2. Encourage activity within public areas;
  3. Avoid new, and where possible remove existing, places of concealment; and
  4. Avoid having a hostile appearance. 

Opportunities should be considered for taking advantage of existing public CCTV coverage to maximise safety and security in new development. 

For those areas where large numbers of people are expected to congregate, consideration should be given to the nature of potential security threats taking into account the most up to date information from the police and other agencies.

Housing design

19.15 It is essential that new housing is designed so as to ensure that its occupiers enjoy a high standard of amenity in the long-term, and this will have health benefits as well as helping to ensure that Salford is an attractive place to live. Meeting the nationally described space standards, as set out in Policy H2, will be a vital component of this. The availability of usable, private outdoor amenity space will also be important, supporting a higher quality of life and contributing to the city’s green infrastructure network. Issues such as the availability of natural light in homes are particularly significant for Salford given the large proportion of new dwellings that are likely to be in the form of apartments and high density houses.

19.16 Delivering an inclusive built environment is a key aspiration of the plan, and will become increasingly significant with a projected growth in the number of older people. It will be important to enable people to stay within their own homes wherever possible as their needs change, rather than having to move to more specialist accommodation. Designing new dwellings to meet the national standard for accessible and adaptable dwellings will assist in this, enabling easier adaptation. Achieving the higher standard for some homes of being wheelchair accessible or wheelchair adaptable would further increase the flexibility of new homes to adapt to varied needs.

19.17 Measures also need to be taken to ensure the long-term sustainability and functionality of new homes, such as by delivering high levels of energy efficiency to support climate change objectives and reduce energy bills, and providing good recycling facilities to help meet targets to reduce the amount of waste being disposed of through landfill. The growing proportion of shopping conducted online will make it important that residential developments are designed to facilitate easy delivery of purchases.

Policy D7 - Housing design 

All residential developments shall be designed to: 

  1. Meet the nationally described space standards in accordance with the requirements set out in Policy H2;
  2. Be accessible and adaptable in accordance with requirement M4(2) of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2010 for England (or any subsequent accessible and adaptable standards) except where it can be clearly demonstrated that this is impracticable due to site-specific factors;
  3. Provide an appropriate level of outdoor amenity space that reflects the type and size of each new dwelling;
  4. Ensure that their occupiers enjoy a high level of amenity, in accordance with Policy D5, including by providing all habitable rooms with a good level of natural light;
  5. Exceed the fabric energy efficiency required under Part L of the Building Regulations 2013 by 19%, and meet the standard required by any subsequent revision to Part L, in accordance with Policy EG1;
  6. Make appropriate provision for refuse storage and collection in accordance with Policy WM1; and
  7. Incorporate provision for the secure delivery of shopping and parcels. 

The delivery of homes to meet the optional standard in Building Regulations Part M4(3) for wheelchair user housing (either wheelchair accessible or wheelchair adaptable) or any subsequent revisions to the standard is encouraged. 

The requirements of this policy apply to all residential developments including student accommodation. However, as set out in Policy H2, the nationally described space standards requirement does not apply to purpose-built student accommodation, hotels, residential institutions (including secure institutions), dwellings with furnished layouts [4] and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). HMOs however shall, where practicable, meet the minimum room size and amenity standards set out in the city council’s latest published guidance for such properties, having regard to the physical constraints of the existing building. 

Alterations to buildings

19.18 Alterations and extensions of existing buildings are an important way of ensuring that the city’s built environment is able to adapt to changing requirements. They can reduce the need for demolitions and redevelopments, and hence the use of building materials, and can also help to retain existing elements of the character of places that support local identity. As with new buildings, it is important that existing buildings that are extended have a high quality overall appearance, rather than appearing as a poorly thought through collection of different elements that do not work together.

Policy D8 - Alterations and extensions 

Alterations and extensions to existing buildings shall: 

  1. Respect the general scale, character, rhythm, proportions, details and materials of the original building;
  2. Retain and avoid masking any key architectural features of the original building;
  3. Ensure that the resultant building appears as an attractive and coherent whole; and
  4. Where a heritage asset would be affected, either directly or in terms of its setting, preserve the significance of that asset and its setting. 

This does not preclude the use of innovative designs or contrasting materials, which in some circumstances may be more appropriate than copying the approach in the original building.

Waterside development

19.19 Salford’s waterways make a significant contribution to the character, identity and environmental quality of the city, and help to attract investment. Development alongside the waterways should fully support these varied roles. One key way of achieving this will be through the provision of waterside routes for pedestrians and cyclists, which will help to maximise their benefits for the whole community, increasing leisure opportunities and promoting healthy activities, and also linking into the city’s wider green infrastructure network.

19.20 If the full potential of the city’s waterways is to be realised, particularly within the City Centre and Salford Quays, then it will be necessary to provide additional public spaces alongside them and bridges across them, helping to maximise their use and enjoyment for all. Individual developments will have an important role in facilitating and delivering this, supporting the successful functioning of the wider area.

19.20 The application of other policies will be particularly important for waterside development, such as in terms of protecting and enhancing views of the waterway (Policy D2), providing a scale, height and massing sufficient to provide a sense of enclosure (Policy D3), offering visual interest (Policy D3), carefully using boundary treatments and locating surface car parking (Policy D4), allowing for natural surveillance of the waterway (Policy D6), and enhancing the city’s green infrastructure network (Policy GI1).

Policy D9 - Waterside development 

Development near to Salford’s waterways (including the River Irwell, the Manchester Ship Canal, Salford Quays, the Bridgewater Canal and the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal) shall make a positive contribution to their character, environmental quality, public amenity value, and role as key walking and cycling routes. 

Development shall: 

  1. Provide a high quality frontage to the waterside, offering a positive setting to it;
  2. Minimise the extent of hard bankside engineering and assess opportunities to remove existing redundant structures as part of any riparian development;
  3. Provide natural surveillance and activity along the waterside, including through the incorporation of entrances to the site and buildings from any waterside pedestrian and cycleway or highway;
  4. Enhance walking and cycling access to, along and across the waterway, including through the delivery of a waterside pedestrian and cycling route connecting to the wider walking and cycling networks, which shall be safe, accessible to all and at least 4 metres wide where practicable;
  5. Ensure that sufficient daytime light provision is maintained along the river corridor in terms of the height and massing of the development;
  6. Improve visual connections to and from the waterway; and
  7. Enhance the role of the waterway corridor within the green infrastructure network, including by supporting improvements to biodiversity, water quality and flood risk management. 

Where required to improve walking and cycling movements and/or enable public enjoyment of the waterside at key locations, development shall also accommodate: 

  1. A larger waterside space to act as a focal point for public activity
  2. A crossing over the waterway 

Where the provision of a waterside pedestrian and cycling route would be impracticable, or incompatible with the commercial role of the waterway or the protection of the historic environment, then an alternative route shall be provided as near to the waterside as possible and linked into key routes including any existing waterside routes in the local area. 

Where appropriate, developers shall work with other agencies to improve the wider environmental functions of the river.


The main indicators that will be used to monitor this chapter are:

Indicator Baseline position Target
Proportion of major developments [5] subject to a design review process 1 (2018/2019) Increase


[1] For example Active Design Guide produced by Sport England in partnership with Public Health England.

[2] Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government (2019) National Design Guide

[3] An independent consideration of the planning application proposal undertaken by a panel of relevant professionals prior to the formal determination of the proposal by the city council, with all costs met by the applicant.   

[4] In accordance with the notes added to the Nationally Described Space Standards on May 2016 (point four), which states that furnished layouts are not required to demonstrate compliance with the standards. 

[5] Major development is defined as in The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015, as amended, or any successor to it.

Next chapter

Rate this page