Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design has been appointed by Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) to produce a Design Code to guide the good growth and sustainable densification of Hemel Hempstead Town Centre.
The project is the one of the pilot projects under the National Model Design Code (NMDC) Phase 1 Testing Pilot Scheme, which is a collaborative programme supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
The programme comprises projects from 14 local authorities across the UK over a six-month programme. It is designed to test aspects of the NMDC, which provides both a methodology and a toolkit of resources to inform the production of design guidance and codes at local level. It will be supported by the Government’s newly established Office of Place, which sets out a vision for building beautiful places across the UK by drawing on world-class design expertise and helping communities drive up design standards.
The codes in Hemel Hempstead will be focused on the Paradise and Wood Lane area. It will help facilitate positive placemaking and identity, looking at Hemel Hempstead’s legacy as a new town and its relationship with the historic old town.
The code will also aim to enhance the natural assets in the town centre and vision pillars set out in the Hemel Garden Communities Spatial Vision, taking into account the quality of existing town centre places, as well as communities and local businesses.
Key features of the Town Centre Design Code will include:
- Delivering a mixed-use environment for the town centre,
- High quality buildings that are designed with people’s needs in mind,
- Options for people living and working there to make sustainable and healthy choices, such as choosing to walk and cycle,
- Support for the vibrancy of the town centre,
- Integration of open space, landscape and biodiversity,
- Accommodation of a range of unit types for different generations and needs,
- Sensible integration of vehicles so they do not undermine the quality of the public realm.
Cllr Alan Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Infrastructure at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “Irrespective of the arguments over the amount of new housing to be built in Dacorum over the next decade and beyond, we know there will be new development in the borough. Being part of this pilot will ensure that the character and beauty of Dacorum is retained and that our borough continues to be somewhere people can live happy, healthy and sustainable lives. It’s also a great opportunity for residents to have their say in the layout, design and appearance of buildings in their area.”
Jane Dann, Director, Tibbalds, said: “Design codes can play a pivotal role in addressing heritage and environmental sensitivities while delivering good design quality. This new code will specifically address sustainable urban intensification and focus on delivering strong, prosperous communities centred around economic growth. Good placemaking and public realm principles will also be observed as well as integrating with the natural beauty of the adjoining nature reserve and the character of the existing urban fabric.”
In 2019, Tibbalds worked collaboratively with the Design Council to deliver the new National Design Guide for the MHCLG, which explains the government’s design priorities and illustrates how well-designed places can be achieved in practice. It identified a need to produce the NMDC and together they provide national good practice guidance for achieving beautiful, enduring and successful places.