Paved and hard surfaced areas are a major element within most developments, and their design has a significant impact on the overall appearance, quality and success of a scheme. Care must be taken when choosing the materials and when detailing paved areas as part of the overall design.
Surface water management should also be considered when designing paved areas. High quality materials such as stone, gravel and brick can provide a durable and attractive hard surface, although there are an extensive range of modern materials that can contribute positively to the quality of outdoor spaces if chosen with care.
The highest specification of materials, such as natural limestone or sandstone, will usually be expected in areas of special significance, such as civic spaces and adjacent to listed buildings. The laying pattern and materials used can make a significant contribution to the overall appearance, quality and success of a scheme. 45 degree herringbone patterns are less visually pleasing than other laying patterns such as random bond, broken bond, gauged width, and the European fan.
Large unbroken areas of a particular surface material should be avoided, especially tarmac, and areas can be broken up successfully using materials of a similar colour but with different textures. It is also important that where there are large development projects with more than one developer, these different developers adopt the same consistent palette of materials and designs.
Brick, stone and clay or slate roof tiles, which are commonly seen as part of most local contexts, all derive from a 'warm palette' of natural colours, of buffs, oranges and reds. If a dark colour is found in the local vernacular it is usually a dark red or blue – such as is found in hard engineering bricks or blue greys from natural slate. Putting black tarmac next to these materials usually dominates the subtlety of the other colours, and can jar with the overall appearance. It is therefore advisable to use aggregate (preferably red or buff) rolled into tarmac to soften its appearance.
Whatever the material finish of the street, be it tarmac, paving or setts, if it is necessary to dig up and reinstate the surface effort should be made to replace 'like for like' so that patches are less visible and do not cause our residential streets to become unattractive over time.