Design Standards

Strategic Overview

Securing high quality design is important in achieving many of the essential wider aims and objectives under the umbrella of sustainable development. In recent years there have been a number of larger scale applications that have been developed which do not fully respect North Norfolk's rich cultural and historic importance. In line with the changes to the NPPF and the increased focus upon promoting high quality design, the policy seeks to incorporate a number of key urban design principles which must, where possible, be incorporated into all schemes.

All development proposals should seek to make efficient use of land, but reflect the characteristics of the site and local area in their layout, landscaping, density, mix, scale, massing, character, materials, finish and architectural details. All development proposals should respond to current best practice and demonstrate that they have complied with or justified any departures from the best practice as set out within this guide. 

Quality of the Public Realm

For places to work and foster sustainable communities it is important that the public realm is of high quality, feels safe, is vibrant, is inclusive to all social groups, and is adaptable to the changing needs of the community. This can be achieved through:

  • Locating public spaces on main lines of movement and pedestrian connection nodes;
  • ensuring that spaces present imaginative, high quality design and contribute to the District’s wider green infrastructure framework;
  • ensuring that spaces and routes are overlooked from surrounding buildings, with active frontages onto spaces, where appropriate;
  • creating incidental and/or small areas of grass/open space should be used to complement green infrastructure and the overall movement network;
  • prioritising the retention of key natural features, such as mature trees, hedgerows and land forms;
  • provide new trees, including street trees, hedgerows and additional native species planting as part of the overall landscaping framework throughout a site;
  • strengthening and protecting existing boundary hedgerows around the site;
  • providing appropriate landscaping and screening to aid residential amenity; and
  • reducing the potential impact of artificial light pollution and its effects on wildlife and the rural setting.

Landscape and Green Infrastructure

The importance upon the spaces around new development should not be underestimated in the design of new development. Good landscaping can actively enhance, complement, soften or even obscure development as necessary. The landscape of North Norfolk gets its unique identity from the natural setting and historical development. New development should respect, respond and enhance this unique landscape character. new development should share common characteristics with its locality and reinforce local identity as well as providing well designed accessible landscapes and public open spaces. 

Movement and Connectivity

In considering the potential of new development, making the right connections into and out of the site is a major component of placemaking. The distribution and hierarchy of streets have an important relationship with distribution of land uses, density and pattern of activity. 

Creating new walking and cycling routes and connecting to the existing walking and cycling network by the simplest and most direct way should be a major consideration and priority in all new developments in North Norfolk. 

Important approach routes have been identified on the Policies Maps which provide important views while travelling into a settlement. These have been selected on the basis of their ‘gateway’ function for visitors of the wider settlement. Development proposals along these routes should have particular regard to their setting. The Government publication ‘Manual for Streets’ aims to assist in the creation of high quality residential streets and should be used in such proposals.  


Respecting the rural and historic character of much of North Norfolk, it is important that new proposals preserve or enhance the historic environment and/or respect or improve the local character. This can be achieved through careful design, incorporating high quality details and materials and through careful consideration of layout, form, style, massing scale and density. 

The North Norfolk Design Guide sets out the guidance as to minimum densities across both locationally and in terms of scale of development. A summary of this is set out as follows:

  • Urban Centre : 30-50dph
  • Urban Fringe: 20-40dph
  • Village Centre: 15-35dph
  • Village Fringe: 10-30dph

In terms of conformity with the spatial strategy of the Local Plan, the term 'urban' relates to Large and Small Growth Towns and 'village' refers to Service Villages and Infill Villages. Further detail is to be found in the North Norfolk Design Guide.


'Secured by Design' principles are expected to be incorporated within all schemes. This will require particular consideration to layout of the development to increase natural surveillance, layout of roads and footpaths, appropriate planting, specific consideration of the use/misuse of open space and secure standards of doors and windows for example. Further advice on 'Secured by Design' is available from Norfolk Constabulary. In town centres covered by CCTV systems, developers will be required to consider these facilities in their design and / or contribute to the siting / re-siting of cameras where appropriate. 


Residents have the right to adequate privacy levels and to be kept free from excessive noise, odours and unwanted social contact. The Council will therefore look for layouts to take account of the position of dwellings and the arrangement of their rooms and windows and private amenity space. 

Accessibility and Adaptability

The District  has one of the highest percentage of over 65s  in the country. The population is aging and the trend is accelerating. There is a historic deficit and lack of accessible and adaptable properties across all tenures in the District with the greatest requirement remaining in the private sector. Given the Districts increasing older population structure and high proportion of older, smaller traditional housing stock, it is important that the supply of accessible and adaptable homes is significantly increased. With public health and social care strategies placing more emphasis on supporting people in their own homes rather than moving to residential care it is also important that the Council seek to ensure  that more accessible homes are provided in the district and that adaptations are easier and cheaper to undertake. 

Space Standards

The size and layout of new dwellings have an important influence on health and wellbeing as well as future adaptability and with the aging population in North Norfolk is an important consideration for the Local Plan. The nationally described space standards deal with internal space within new dwellings across all tenures. The standard sets out the minimum requirements for the Gross Internal (floor) area of new dwellings at a defined level of occupancy as well as floor area and dimensions for key parts of the home, eg bedrooms, storage and floor to ceiling height. Utilising these optional technical standards allows the Council  to seek to increase the dwelling sizes in relation to property sizes where there is the greatest need, ensuring that properties across the District are built to meet expectations and new dwellings continue to have a positive impact on Local plan delivery targets.

Climate Change & Energy Efficiency

Delivering sustainable development and adapting to climate change includes the requirement to minimise demand for resources and mitigate the impacts from climate change. With the focus on the quality of homes in the NPPF,  the national emphasis on more energy efficient homes and the aim of zero carbon homes,  local authorities can play a role in incentivising industry to help meet the national carbon reduction targets as well as increase long term sustainability and peoples well-being. In relation to managing SuDS, consideration should be given to the four pillars of Water Quantity, Water Quality, Amenity and Biodiversity, and taking into consideration multi-functional benefits of land use and materials such as permeable materials to aid infiltration and green roofs for storage.

Public Art

Public art is recognised as having a significant role in creating successful places and establishing vibrant communities. Public art has the ability to make buildings and places more distinctive, attractive and legible. 


Parking provision and parking within the streetscene can have a significant baring on the character and appearance of an area and its functionality. Parking can tend to dominate streets, weaken the sense of enclosure and erode urban design qualities. Imaginative solutions are therefore required to respond to the challenge. Parking has to be designed carefully and parking capacity needs to be flexible. 

Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure 

The level of provision of electric vehicle charging points should be appropriate to the development size and type, its level of parking provision and its context and location. In the case of car parks, upstanding or inset charging points can be integrated into the design, whereas more innovation may be required for on-street charging points which should be integrated into street lighting columns or other smart street furniture items so as to reduce street clutter.

Policy ENV 9
High Quality Design

All development proposals should seek to make efficient use of land, but reflect the characteristics of the site and local area in their layout, landscaping, density, mix, scale, massing, character, materials, finish and architectural details.
All development proposals should respond to current best practice and demonstrate that they are in conformity with the design principles set out in established urban design guidance, any subsequently produced design Supplementary Planning Document adopted by the Council or other design guidance endorsed by the Council and/or through neighbourhood planning.
The Council will expect proposals for all development and other works to comply with the North Norfolk Design Guide, and successor documents, or provide justification for a departure from the guidance demonstrating a high quality of design that:

1. contributes positively to the public realm and public spaces; creating high quality, sustainably designed places and spaces that maximise uses and activities;

2. retains existing important landscaping and natural features, in accordance with Policy ENV 2 'Protection & Enhancement of Landscape & Settlement Character', and includes landscape enhancement schemes that are compatible with the Landscape Character Assessment and ecological network mapping;

3. provides opportunities to enhance the green infrastructure network across the District in accordance with Policy ENV 5 'Green Infrastructure'

4. maximises connectivity, creating a movement hierarchy which is legible, permeable and well connected;

5. incorporates footpaths, cycle paths, green links and networks to the surrounding area, respecting important approach routes;

6. preserves or, where possible, enhances the special character of the historic environment in accordance with Policy ENV 11 'Protecting and Enhancing the Historic Environment' and relevant Conservation Area Appraisals;

7. integrates, to a high degree of compatibility with the surrounding area, in terms of: layout, form, style, massing, scale and density, ensuring that development makes efficient use of land while respecting the distinctive local character;

8. reduces opportunities for crime, terrorism and antisocial behaviour, creating safe, secure and accessible environments;

9. provides appropriate private amenity space, and, where appropriate, includes facilities for refuse, recycling and servicing, whilst respecting residential amenity of both new dwellings and nearby occupiers in accordance with Policy ENV 10 'Protection of Amenity';

10. ensures that development is designed in accordance with the Council's Optional Technical Housing Standards as set out in 'Accessible & Adaptable Homes';

11. incorporates sustainable construction principles contained within Policy HOU 11 'Sustainable Construction, Energy Efficiency & Carbon Reduction';

12. maximises the opportunities for the provision of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) taking into account the multi-functional benefits of compatible land uses and materials as detailed within Policy SD 10 'Flood Risk & Surface Water Drainage';

13. incorporates public art into schemes; and,

14. provides adequate parking provision that is discreet and accessible in line with Policy SD 15 'Parking Provision'.