Neighbourhood Character

--- Pam Drakopoulos

--- Pam Drakopoulos

Consideration for Neighbourhood Character is pivotal and necessary for all types of development. During the site analysis stage, we investigate the planning  zones and overlays, to determine if the site requires neighbourhood character policy and objectives to be met in the area. Generally,  the zone requirements of the site provide us with guidelines that we can follow, to assist us during the design process. The character policy however, is more specific and responds to such components as built form provisions, native and indigenous cover, scale and bulk, and other patterns that are precedent to the area.

Due to our specialized experience in Planning and Design, we are also able to read between the lines of the planning scheme, and  investigate and gather the not so obvious neighbourhood objectives the development needs to responds to.  This elements can include- consistent front setback patterns, garage treatment and minimum  setback requirements from the side and rear to list a few.

We have found requirements such as these, are not listed in the scheme and are only revealed to us when we proceed to carry out a detailed Neighbourhood Character Analysis.

The analysis provides vital information, that we extract and include in the planning report, to justify the proposed development. It also assists us to develop the design of the buildings inside and outside.

Municipalities are very territorial of their neighbourhood policies and we as designers need to respect their position. However, at the same time we want to recognise the potential for change as a result of new social and economic conditions and a change to housing preferences and local policies. The initial design response can take on a metamorphosis, once council have had their say and provided their advice in relation to specific design elements that make up the neighbourhood. As long as we respond to the policy,  by providing a positive response to the housing patterns, materials, roof forms, entry treatments etc., we generally are able to gain council support.

A developer needs to be aware of the complexities of the neighbourhood character they are buying into.  It is important to study the neighbourhood and notice the subdivision patterns of recent development,  as this gives us an indication of the type and quality of development that council are approving for construction. It also provides the developer with important information on the housing types our society are comfortable to live in, specific to that neighbourhood and surrounding infrastructure.