Highclere Parish Council
The Highclere and Penwood Village Design Statement was developed during 2001/2 in full consultation with local people. It clearly sets out a picture of the character of the parish and helps both the borough and parish council’s to assess and make decisions on planning design and development in order to respect local identity.
Some features that were identified as most valued by local people were the:
- rural ambience - tree-lined approaches, natural verges
- outstanding landscape - the parish sits almost wholly in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- stunning views - overlooking fields and open spaces
- woodland, leafy lanes and hedgerows - many fine individual trees
- quiet lanes - used by walkers, cyclists, horse-riders
- spread-out settlements - well spaced dwellings that contribute to the rural atmosphere
- diversity of building styles - many using local red brick
- interesting architectural features - hung tiles, patterned brickwork, varied rooflines and details.
The design statement elaborates on these, describes the key features of the main settlements of the parish and provides specific guidance for developers.
Naturally, 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; young families need affordable housing; a new health centre or buildings for local employment may be needed; people want to extend or alter their homes. Whatever the scale and type of new development, 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 provide 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 those characteristics to reinforce local diversity.
Most planning authorities share these ideas but can only give a general indication of local character in an area - it is local people who understand what makes a village special, and by contributing to the design statement they are able to guide the planning authority and advise would-be developers on everything from householders' alterations to large-scale and complex projects.
For more general information about village design statements and to view the Highclere and Penwood document visit www.basingstoke.gov.uk.