3. General Development Policies


"Raising Standards of Development"

The policies in this chapter are aimed at raising standards of development.This reflects the Government's commitment to achieving high standards of design which is also embodied in regional and sub-regional planning policies. It also supports West Lancashire's Community Strategy which contains a commitment to improve the quality of life and foster thriving towns and vital rural areas where people choose to live and work.


The following policies are based as far as possible on the results of consultation on planning issues which showed that there was strong support for improving design to incorporate energy efficiency, minimising the risk of crime and complementing the landscape and local environment. At the Local Plan Forum Meetings many people felt that development should only be permitted where the local infrastructure and services are capable of accommodating it. Where this is not possible there was a strong support for the principle that the developer should fill any gaps in provision before the development takes place.

POLICY GD1 - Design of Development View Map of this site ?

Development will be permitted if it complies with the other policies in this Plan and if it meets the following criteria:-

  1. It maintains or enhances the distinctive character and visual quality of the Landscape Character Area, as shown on the Proposals Map, in which it is located. 
  2. It provides landscaped buffer zones and appropriate levels of public open space to screen unsightly features from view and to limit the impact of the development on adjoining sensitive uses and the open countryside.
  3. It avoids the loss of trees, hedgerows, and areas of ecological value, or provides for their like for like replacement, where loss is unavoidable, and provides for the enhancement of any features of ecological value.
  4. It incorporates and enhances the landscape and nature conservation value of any water features, such as streams, ditches and ponds.
  5. It incorporates recycling collection facilities, or composting and rainwater collection facilities, unless the applicant demonstrates that it is inappropriate to provide them.
  6. It is designed to minimise any reduction in air quality.
  7. It incorporates measures to reduce light spillage.
  8. It respects the historic character of the local landscape and townscape, as defined by the Areas of Landscape History Importance shown on the Proposals Map.
  9. It complements or enhances any attractive attributes of its surroundings through sensitive design which includes appropriate siting, orientation, scale, materials, landscaping, boundary treatment, detailing and use of art features where appropriate.
  10. Where the proposal involves extensions, conversion or alterations to existing buildings, its design should relate to the existing building, in terms of design and materials, and should not detract from the character of the street scene or the surrounding area.
  11. In the case of large scale development proposals or those on sensitive sites a design statement should be submitted with any application for planning permission to enable the Council to assess if the design meets the criteria of this policy.
  12. It incorporates design features which assist in conserving the use of energy, water and other natural resources.
  13. It retains reasonable levels of privacy, amenity and sufficient garden /outdoor space for occupiers of the neighbouring and proposed properties. In the case of new buildings it provides sufficient garden /outdoor space to meet the needs of residents of those buildings.
  14. It is designed to minimise the risk of crime and the fear of crime.
  15. It incorporates sustainable drainage systems where feasible or, where this is not feasible, it incorporates features to reduce the amount of surface water run-off by minimising hard surfaces and using porous materials where possible.
  16. It is designed to prevent sewerage problems.
  17. It integrates well with the surrounding area and provides safe, convenient and attractive pedestrian and, where appropriate, cycling links, to local facilities. It should also prioritise the convenience of pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transport over that of the car and include traffic calming and traffic management measures to achieve this where appropriate. Applicants for developments over a certain size will be required to provide Transport Assessments and Travel Plans to accord with the requirements of the latest Lancashire Parking Standards.
  18. It creates an environment that is accessible to all sectors of the community including children, elderly people, and people with disabilities.
  19. It provides, where appropriate, suitable provision for public transport including bus stops and shelters.
  20. It incorporates suitable and safe access and road layout design, and vehicle and cycle parking provision, which meet the requirements of the latest Lancashire Planning and Access Standards.

Justification of Policy GD1 

The quality of design of development contributes to the quality of life and therefore is an extremely important planning consideration. National planning guidance states that plans should set out design policies against which proposals are to be considered (PPS1 para. 36). It also states that design which fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area should not be accepted (para. 13(iv)).


The Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West states that new development must demonstrate good quality design and respect for its setting. It suggests that local authorities should prepare local design strategies and principles for inclusion in development plans or as Supplementary Planning Documents (Policy DP3).


This policy aims to implement national and regional planning guidance by requiring a high standard of design. It also helps to deliver a number of proposals in West Lancashire's Community Strategy such as improving our urban and rural surroundings and reducing the fear of crime. Supplementary Planning Documents will be prepared on some of the Design criteria. The reasons for each of the criteria are set out below:-

  1. In accordance with PPG7 (now superseded by PPS7) and the Countryside Agency’s guidance “Countryside and nature conservation issues in district local plans” (CCP317), the Council has carried out an assessment of landscape character (Landscape and Wildlife Assessment, January 1994). Five main Landscape Character Areas covering the entire  District have been identified in the Landscape and Wildlife Assessment and these represent the geographical framework within which historical processes have developed and which have, in turn, been modified by those processes. The distinctive character of each Landscape Character Area imparts variety to the landscapes of West Lancashire. In order to preserve distinctiveness and variety, new development and associated landscaping will be expected to reflect the visual, ecological and historic characteristics of the surrounding Landscape Character Area by careful siting, design and use of materials. It is important that characteristic features and their relationships be retained and enhanced where appropriate.This includes such features as woodlands, hedgerows, traditional walls, ditches, watercourses, field and settlement patterns, historical roads, track and footpath patterns, banks, cloughs, topography and sense of openness or enclosure. Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance has been prepared for the Landscape Character Areas, and this is being reviewed at present.
  2. viewed from a distance. Existing site features should be retained, particularly onDevelopment should be designed to limit its impact on the quality of the open countryside. The sensitive treatment of the outer edges of development is an important measure in safeguarding the visual quality of the countryside. In addition, internal landscaping, whenmature, can help to break up roof lines and provides a backdrop to roofscapes when boundaries, which can give an immediate screening effect and maturity to new development. The size and treatment of buffer zones will vary according to individual site circumstances. Buffer zones may consist of landscape treatment for screening and noise reduction or may consist simply of land left undeveloped to provide distance between conflicting uses. PPS23 states that in preparing local plans, local authorities should take into account the need to separate necessary but potentially polluting and other land uses, and the possible impact of potentially polluting development resulting from releases to water, land or air, or of noise, dust, vibration, light or heat.The Landscape and Wildlife Assessment describes the air cleaning capabilities of trees and shrubs and the significant contribution new and existing vegetation can make to noise and gas absorption. Buffer zone treatments may include management or creation of new habitats to mitigate ecological conflicts or to protect groundwater resources. Where unsightly areas of open storage or servicing are proposed, landscaping and layout needs to ensure that such uses are not readily visible from public areas, such as roads, footpaths and public open spaces.
  3. Trees are an important element of the District's landscapes and townscapes, and the Council considers that this resource should be retained and protected wherever possible. As detailed in the Landscape and Wildlife Assessment, trees are an important visual, ecological and historical resource and are facing many threats, particularly in urban areas. Government guidance contained within 'Tree Preservation Orders - a Guide to the Law and Good Practice' advises that local authorities should consider the effect of trees and development on each other, and that the impact of site layouts on the roots of new and existing trees should be considered. Where existing trees and other vegetation are to be retained, sufficient consideration must be given at an early stage to the layout of all components of the development and the construction process which could affect trees. Detailed guidance supporting this policy is available in BS.5837:2005 - 'Recommendations for trees in relation to construction' and in Supplementary Planning Guidance. Applicants and developers will be expected to pay regard to the detailed advice contained within these documents.The Countryside Act 1968 gives local authorities a duty to have regard for the conservation of flora, fauna, geological and physiographical features in urban and rural areas. Central Government Guidance (PPS9) requires local authorities to take account of nature conservation in assessing sites for development proposals.
  4. Streams, ditches and hedgerows are important ecological and historic features which an, if they are incorporated properly into the design, add to the quality of new development. Their retention can add maturity to the character of the development as well as helping to assimilate new buildings into their surroundings.
  5. Recycling can save energy in production and transport. It conserves natural resources and reduces demand for waste disposal facilities. The siting of recycling facilities within the car parks of large supermarkets and other types of development which attract a large number of visitors helps to avoid the need for special journeys to recycling centres. It is important that recycling facilities are designed as an integral part of the overall site layout, for amenity reasons and for access by shoppers and collection vehicles to avoid vehicle and pedestrian conflict. Policy 27 of the Joint Lancashire Structure Plan also suggests that development proposals should also consider the waste arising from the permanent use of the development. All new developments will need to make provision for recycling collection facilities, or composting and rainwater collection facilities, unless the applicant demonstrates that it is inappropriate to provide them, or where they cannot be satisfactorily accommodated. In the case of houses, this will be usually in the form of a standard compost bin and water butt within the garden area.
  6. Government guidance requires close liaison with Environmental Health on air quality issues. The Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West aims to improve air quality by reducing or reversing the growth in road traffic and promoting more sustainable and healthier patterns of development. At the local level it is also important that major industrial proposals and road proposals take air quality into consideration.
  7. All living things adjust their behaviour according to natural light. Artificial light with the power to turn night into day can create stress and confusion. At present a significant  proportion of artificial light ends up in the sky where it does nothing to increase night-time utility or security, wastes electricity and thereby large sums of money. Light spillage can be substantially reduced without having a detrimental effect on the task for which the lighting is designed e.g. minimising spread of light by directing light, use of shields and baffles, switching off lights when not required for safety and security, and avoiding over-lighting.
  8. The arrangement of landscape features such as hedges, lanes, banks and settlements is a record of many years of human activity. The specific arrangements of field patterns and their relationship to settlements and transport routes helps us to 'read' the landscape, that is, to interpret how the landscape has come to appear as it has. Similarly historic buildings, walls and other structures reflect the intrinsic character of an area and should be retained and respected by new development.
    In accordance with the findings of the 1993 study, "The Landscape History of West Lancashire", the Council has designated parts of the District as Areas of Landscape History Importance, i.e. areas which retain significant historical integrity and are worthy of conservation and protection. Areas of regional significance ("Regional Areas") are the most important in historical terms and are comparable with the best examples of historic landscape elsewhere in the North West. Development in Regional Areas will be expected to include the use of materials characteristic of the area, the enhancement of historic features where practicable, and the preservation or recording of any archaeological features. Areas of county significance ("County Areas") are of great value in terms of landscape history, but not as outstanding as Regional Areas. They tend to comprise larger rural areas. Development in County Areas will be expected to include the use of materials characteristic of the area and the restoration or enhancement of historic features where practicable. Areas of local significance ("Local Areas") are generally smaller in extent than County Areas and may contain small-scale features, or fragments of earlier landscapes. Development in these areas should include the restoration and enhancement of historic features where practicable. Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance has been prepared which sets out the respective merits of the three types of area and the basis for their  designation. The SPG will be reviewed and adopted in due course.
  9. It is also important that new buildings reflect the local vernacular architecture where this is of high quality. Whilst separate policies apply in Conservation Areas there is a need to improve the overall quality of development in West Lancashire and this means that all new development should not harm its environment, but should maintain or positively reinforce local characteristics.
  10. It is important that extensions are designed to harmonise with the existing building and to ensure that they do not adversely affect the street scene. Whilst such developments are often small in scale they can have a major impact. Extensions which are badly designed in themselves or are incompatible with their surroundings can lead to a noticeable fall in the quality of the visual character of an area. If poor design is repeated the cumulative effect can be severe. It is also important that neighbours do not suffer from loss of privacy due to overlooking, loss of sunlight due to overshadowing or intolerable living conditions due to overbearing extensions or poor outlook. Extensions should not reduce garden areas or parking provision below normally acceptable standards, and should not obstruct the visibility of pedestrians or road users if this would reduce the level of road safety. Where conversion or alteration to a historic building (whether listed or not) is proposed, this should be justified in the application and an adequate level of documentation provided to allow informed decisions to be reached as to the impact of the proposals on the built structure and any buried archaeological remains. Where appropriate, the Council may require further information to be provided before a decision is reached, or may decide to apply conditions requiring a record to be made in advance of development, or other works of mitigation.
  11. Both PPS1 and PPG3 state that applicants for planning permission should be able to demonstrate how they have taken account of urban design and the need for good layout and design. Annex A of PPS1 (paragraph A4) states that "applicants for planning permission should, as a minimum, provide a short written statement setting out the design principles adopted as well as illustrative material in plan and elevation. This material should show the wider context, and not just the development site and its immediately adjacent buildings. Inclusion of relevant perspective views can also be of value. Such material will be particularly important in relation to complex or large-scale development and proposals involving sensitive sites." For smaller straightforward proposals, the guidance explains that photographs of the site and its surroundings plus the usual dra wings may be more appropriate. DCLG Circular 01/2006 requires that, as from August 2006, design statements be submitted with all planning applications with the exception of householder, change of use and engineering and mining operations applications. They should explain the design principles and concepts that have been applied to particular aspects of the proposal, namely the amount, layout, scale, landscaping and appearance of the development.
  12. Designs and layouts should make provision for the efficient use of energy, for example through careful consideration of building orientation, the inclusion of shelter belts and measures which encourage pedestrian, bicycle and public transport use. PPG3 states hat well designed layouts can contribute to the energy efficiency of new housing (para 53) and local authorities should adopt policies which promote the energy efficiency of new housing (para 56). The Council will encourage the use of energy efficient materials, energy saving measures, and recycled materials in the design of buildings.
  13. It is also important that new development is designed to retain reasonable levels of privacy by avoiding the close proximity of windows of habitable rooms without adequate measures such as screening or the use of opaque glass. The Council has produced Supplementary Planning Guidance on Residential Developments which sets out the minimum distances required between windows etc. Development should also be designed so that neighbours do not suffer from loss of amenity caused by loss of sunlight due to overshadowing or intolerable living conditions due to overbearing developments or poor outlook. It is also essential that residents of proposed houses are protected from loss of amenity due to noise from neighbouring uses, including roads. Applications for housing development close to trunk roads will need to be accompanied by a noise assessment and where necessary should include design solutions to reduce the noise people are exposed to in their properties (including gardens).
  14. Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act places a duty on the Local Authority to have due regard to the likely effect on, and the need to do all it reasonably can to prevent, crime and disorder in its area. Layouts should avoid features which could increase the risk of crime, such as long narrow unlit passages between buildings; over-large estates should also be avoided, as recommended in Circular 5/94. The Community Strategy Action Plan for Community Safety promotes environmental improvements to reduce the fear of crime, to design out crime and to enhance quality of life issues for the community.
  15. New development will only be permitted where the Council is satisfied that suitable measures, designed to mitigate the adverse impact of surface water run-off, are included as an integral part of the development. Measures to minimise the area of hard surface must be incorporated to reduce the risk of sudden flooding due to reductions in levels of percolation of rainfall as a result of the impermeability of such surfaces. Such run-off can be contaminated with a whole range of pollutants which would have a detrimental impact on the quality of nearby watercourses if not suitably controlled. The use of sustainable drainage systems within developments should be encouraged, where possible, in new developments.
  16. Private sewage plants require frequent maintenance in order to produce effluents which meet Environment Agency standards, and maintenance problems often arise where plants are in multiple ownership. Inadequate maintenance can result in pollution of watercourses. New development should therefore be served by existing or new foul sewerage systems and sewerage treatment plants, rather than by a proliferation of individual septic tanks or small private treatment works within sewered areas.
  17. Pedestrians require convenient access to local shopping, community and employment opportunities and the Council will seek to ensure, through the use of conditions where appropriate, that developers provide such links. When proposing new footpath links it is essential that security be taken into account as part of the design. As well as the detailed alignment of the route, associated landscaping and lighting must be designed in such a way as to ensure maximum visibility and thus increase security. Walking is the most environmentally acceptable mode of transport and the Council is keen to encourage more journeys on foot. As a large proportion (26%) of car journeys are less than 2 miles, walking could become much more popular, significantly reducing the demand for car borne travel.
    Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transport and recreation which the Council is keen to promote. 40% of trips of 3 miles or less are currently made by car providing considerable scope for transferring these trips to alternative modes. It is considered that greater support for cycling should be given to meet the expected rise in demand. Cycling is an efficient form of transport which is relatively cheap, available to all, takes up little space, is noiseless, emits no fumes and promotes good health. However, many are put off cycling because of safety concerns and problems associated with secure cycle parking. Cyclist /vehicle conflicts are the main problem where cyclists are required to share road space.This can be overcome through the provision of dedicated cycle routes, either associated with new or existing highways or utilising disused transport routes such as rail corridors, as is the case with the Cheshire Lines route. Traffic calming refers to the traffic  management measures primarily designed to reduce the conflict between vehicles and pedestrians, particularly in residential areas, by devices largely aimed at reducing vehicle speeds, volume of traffic and opportunities for short-cuts. Such measures can also be useful in encouraging walking and cycling and improving the quality of local neighbourhoods.Traffic calming measures will be an important aspect of new residential development, with developers required to demonstrate a suitable approach to the problems of vehicles in residential areas. The Lancashire Access and Parking Standards require the submission of Transport Assessments (giving details of current and proposed accessibility to the site, modal targets and the measures to achieve these) and Travel Plans (showing  how measures will achieve modal shift and including mechanisms for monitoring and review, and enforcement for applications over a certain threshold). 
  18. Designs should allow access for all and should make provision for wheelchair, pram and pushchair access and reduce impediments which could restrict people with disabilities.
  19. Increased use of buses can bring about environmental benefits in terms of reduced pollution and congestion. It is therefore important that major new development is well served, or capable of being served by the bus network, reducing the need to travel by private car. Developers will be encouraged to provide facilities such as turning areas etc, as an integral part of developments. The Council will support increased provision of bus shelters and additional provision for the elderly/handicapped through community bus services (e.g. dial-a-ride) and the use of low floor buses. Future provisions for buses  hould be considered even if there is no bus route available at the time of building.
  20. The road layout, access and parking arrangements need to be designed to modern standards in accordance with the Council's approved standards which may change. Developers should consult the District Council and, where appropriate, either the Highways Agency or County Council as Highway Authority, to discuss the road layout, access and car parking arrangements.

Background Documents for Policy GD1

Planning Policy Statement 1 Delivering Sustainable Development National
Planning Policy Statement 23 Planning and Pollution Control
DCLG Circular 01/2006 Guidance on Changes to the Development
Control System 


Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West

  • Policy DP3 Quality in New Development 


Joint Lancashire Structure Plan (Various policies) 

Sub Regional 

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Landscape and Heritage 

Sub Regional 

West Lancashire Landscape and Wildlife Assessment 


The Landscape History of West Lancashire (1993) 


West Lancashire's Community Strategy 2003 - 2006 Local Community Safety, Transport, Homes and People; Environment sections 


POLICY GD2 - Developer Contributions to Infrastructure View Map of this site ?

Where appropriate, the Council will seek to impose conditions or negotiate with developers to agree appropriate levels of contributions towards infrastructure improvements which are required to secure the future needs of the occupiers of that development or to mitigate the impact of the development on the surrounding area. The contributions can consist of the provision of new facilities or a financial contribution by way of a legal agreement to the provider of the service to cover their provision and/or future maintenance.The scale of contributions will be directly related to the scale of measures and facilities that are needed as a result of the development.

The contributions may be expected to cover the following where appropriate:-

  1. For Major Developments
    1.  Flood Prevention and off-site Drainage Measures where necessary;
    2. Off-site Highway Improvements where necessary;
    3. Public Transport Improvements;
    4. Cycling and Pedestrian Facilities;
    5. Community Safety Measures.
  2. For Residential Development
    1. Open Space, Sports and Recreation Facilities;
    2. Affordable Housing;
    3. Education Facilities;
    4. Health and Community Facilities.
  3. For Retail Development
    1. Recycling Facilities.
  4. For Schemes Costing Over £1,000,000
    1. At least 1% of the total development cost of the scheme to be put towards the provision of acceptable works of a scheme of environmental enhancement either on site or at a location agreed with the Council.

Justification for Policy GD2

New development places a strain on the social and physical infrastructure of the area. During the consultation on the Issues Paper there was a strong feeling that increased infrastructure should be provided by developers. Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 enables local planning authorities to enter into legal agreements containing planning obligations with developers and/or landowners to achieve improvements which are directly related to the proposed development. Circular 5/05 provides advice on the use of planning obligations. It explains that local planning authorities should only seek provision of facilities which are fairly and reasonably related in scale, and kind, to the proposed development. Regional Planning Guidance for the North West stresses the need to co-ordinate the provision of social infrastructure (Policy UR2) with development. Social infrastructure includes health facilities, schools and colleges, public sports and leisure facilities, 'green space' and libraries, neighbourhood offices and meeting places. Physical infrastructure includes roads, drainage and transport systems.


PPG 13 (paras. 83-86) sets out the scope of planning obligations which may be sought by local authorities from developers. This includes contributions to achieve improvements to public transport, walking and cycling, where such measures would influence travel patterns to a site. The District Council will have regard to the schemes set out in this Plan and other documents, such as the Local Transport Plan and Cycling Strategy, when considering what planning obligations may be necessary.


The Council will prepare a Supplementary Planning Document on Developer Contributions. Implementing this policy will help to achieve some of the priorities of the Community Strategy e.g. flood defence will assist in providing a healthy environment. Highways, public transport, and cycle pedestrian improvements will help people to get around the District. Community Safety measures will help to reduce the likelihood and fear of crime. Affordable housing ensures local people can access a variety of housing. Open space, recreation and community facilities can help to improve health, community services and access to leisure facilities.


The incorporation of environmental enhancements within major development schemes can improve the quality and attractiveness of the locality. It helps to build confidence in the area and can help to attract further investment.

NB. In the case of development that creates or safeguards jobs the Council's
Regeneration Unit can provide advice on the availability of grant assistance.

Background Documents for Policy GD2

Circular 5/05 Planning Obligations 


West Lancashire's Community Strategy 2003 - 2006 


POLICY GD3 - Development of Contaminated Land View Map of this site ?

Where development, which is acceptable in principle, involves the use of potentially
contaminated land, the Council will grant planning permission provided that:-

  1. The applicant carries out a satisfactory investigation of the site conditions and identifies methods and a programme of proper removal or satisfactory treatment of any contamination found; and 
  2. The treatment or development of land would not cause an increase in the pollution of watercourses and groundwater nor in surface run off.
  3. The proposal does not harm any nature conservation value which the site may have.

The Council will pay particular attention to development within or close to landfill gas sites and will ot grant permission where there is considered to be a risk. New residential development whose curtilage would be within 50 metres of a landfill site will be resisted. Expansion of residential curtilages to within 10 metres of a landfill site will also be resisted.

The developer will be required to implement an approved method statement and provide evidence that it has been carried out.


Justification for Policy GD3

Identification of polluted land is often quite difficult as visible signs can frequently be absent. However, it is usually possible through consideration of past land uses to identify potentially contaminated land. Identification of certain polluting industries, landfill sites etc, can provide an indication of possible sources of contamination. The Council is currently completing a desk-top study to identify potentially contaminated sites across the District and developers are advised to contact the Environmental Protection Section to establish whether there is any risk of contamination. Where the Council considers that a site is potentially polluted, the applicant will be responsible for carrying out an investigation of site conditions, and for ensuring that, where contamination is found, this will either be removed from the site or treated to remove any hazard.


During and after any on-site operations the developer must ensure that pollution does not enter adjacent watercourses or groundwater. Sites found to be contaminated will therefore require adequate sealing against the leakage of polluted matter, while surface drainage should be diverted away from the source of contamination. However, it is also recognised that the development of contaminated sites can offer opportunities for improvements in surface water quality, for example through the restoration of sites which have been poorly infilled in the past.


In implementing this policy, the Council will consult with the relevant agencies responsible for applying the standards set by legislation.

Background Documents for Policy GD3

Planning Policy Guidance Note 14 Development on Unstable Land 


Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West 


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Disclaimer: This adopted West Lancashire District Proposals Map forms the 'lower tier' of the two-tier Plan in Lancashire. The 'upper tier' comprises the Lancashire Structure Plan.