Policy EM4 – Hard Landscaping

Since the inception of the Estate Management Scheme back in 1973, it is recognised that there are a number of core design principles which need to be reviewed in a pragmatic approach to carefully apply some flexibility to cater for modern living.

The use of generous landscaping, tree planting, hedgerows and open space within the Garden City is what helps the town to retain a particular and unique character.  The council acknowledge that there is a need to prevent the erosion of landscaping within the town and believes the retention of frontages, hedgerows and trees are critical to preserving this character.

Undeniably the principle pressure faced between modern living and the retention of key Garden City principles is the accommodation of car parking. The council therefore has to ensure that a balance is achieved between the requirement of accommodating cars and the need to preserve the town’s unique character and amenities.

The need to accommodate the rise in car ownership has resulted over time in a change to the street scene within the town.  Accommodating private motor vehicles off street can erode the street scene, over time, by the excessive removal of soft landscaping within front gardens and its replacement with hard landscaping.

Through a careful design approach, the council aim to ensure that a significant proportion of landscaped frontages are retained. A minimum of 50% of soft landscaped front gardens should be maintained unless individual circumstances indicate that this would not be appropriate. This typically should include grass, flower beds, shrubs, trees and hedges, along the frontage of the site to be retained as landscaped greenery to retain the appearance and ethos of the Garden City. Additionally a sufficient length of hedgerow along the frontage of the property should be retained to reduce the visual prominence of parked vehicles.

The appropriate redesign of frontages to accommodate this balance is achievable through applying a sensitive and appropriate solution. All proposals should take the following into consideration when preparing an Estate Management application.

  • Through the design process, a minimum of 50% of the original front garden area and frontages shall be maintained as soft landscaping, (grass, flower beds, trees, hedges) which unless individual circumstances indicate that this would not be appropriate, would not constitute hardstanding (car parking, footpaths, bin stores, concrete, gravelled areas, drives) or any other hardstanding elements. On corner plots, this policy will apply to side gardens facing either open space, footpaths or roads.

  • The proposed hardstanding should minimise its effect on the character and appearance of the street scene and the wider amenities and values of the area.
  • The 50% split should retain a landscaped boundary where the frontage meets with either the public footpath or highway. This is to maintain the continuous landscaped boundaries which define the Garden City character.
  • Hedgerows should be retained along the site frontage and boundaries. 
  • Only the minimum amount of hedgerow should be removed for any proposed or extended vehicular access – no more than 3m in width.
  • New accesses and openings onto the street to accommodate the new hardstanding should be minimised. Multiple accesses will not be considered favourably unless there is clear justification.
  • For properties less than 6 metres in width, the 50% guidance may not be possible. Methods of retaining green principles should be explored, such as runners (retaining a central green) or paving products designed to integrate green elements [grass-crete] where there is:
    • A limit of 5m in depths to the plot (from the building frontage to front boundary).
    • Provision of substantial landscaping.
  • Proposed plans should take into consideration the requirement for crossover and dropped kerbs to the street (separate planning permission may be required along with consent from Hertfordshire County Council as Highway Authority for a vehicle crossover, please seek advice for further details).
  • Hardstanding will be assessed based on a parking space being no less than 2.4m x 4.8m. These are in accordance with national standards for a typical vehicle size.
  • For front gardens less than 4.8m in depth, applications for hardstanding would not be considered as a standard parking space could not be accommodated (2.4m x 4.8m).

Applications will be carefully considered by an Estate Management officer to ensure character and landscaping is retained to an acceptable degree to maintain the values and amenities of the Garden City.

Material selection

Materials should be carefully selected to include permeable qualities to reduce the impact of surface water runoff. Loose, unbound gravelled surfaces are not acceptable. Colours of the materials should be neutral. 

It is advised material sizes, colour, specification and manufacturer are submitted as part of the Estate Management application to avoid the requirement of conditions attached to any approval that may be given.

Page updated: 7/06/2019

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