Layout Principles and Sustainability

Passive design is the optimisation of the layout and orientation of new buildings, maximising natural environmental factors to help reducing the energy needs by avoiding overshadowing, maximising passive solar gain, maximising the potential internal daylight levels and ventilation.

Key Messages

All developments should be designed around permeable layouts that connect well with the existing walking and cycle networks within and outside of the development.

Community facilities and strategic open spaces should be co-located within easy access to the new community.

Residential layouts should encourage walking and cycling through the creation of direct routes. Nodal points and the core should provide flexible community amenities including workspaces, community centres and pick-up and drop-off locations for online orders, reflecting changing shopping and working habits.

High-quality communal spaces should be provided with supporting facilities which encourage activity by all users.

All new developments, including homes and shared communal spaces, should be well-connected to digital infrastructure (including high-speed internet) from the outset.

Covered and secured cycle storage should be located in prominent and accessible locations as part of the design of new homes.

All dwellings should be designed to cater for all ages and a range of physical and mental abilities, and should be capable of accommodating changes in circumstances over a lifetime.

Designing-in flexibility helps to futureproof streets and spaces, enabling technological innovation and adaptation over time.

Sustainable energy systems and supplies should be designed into the layout of developments and homes.

Key Questions

  • Does the layout promote a coherent, direct, safe, comfortable and attractive network of walking and cycling routes suitable for all users, both within and outside the development?
  • Does the layout promote the co-location and concentration of key retail, community and open-space uses?
  • Are the walking and cycling routes within the layouts safe, well-lit, overlooked, welcoming and attractive, well-maintained, durable and clearly signposted?
  • Is secure and covered residential cycle storage provided in a prominent location which encourages cycle use over car use?
  • Have private communal spaces been designed to encourage a range of activities to allow all to take part, including activities for all genders, ages and cultures?
  • Does the layout enable flexibility and adaptation to allow for future innovation in technological design and changing habits?
  • Does the layout of the dwelling enable flexibility and adaption to allow for changes in personal circumstances?

The Building for a Healthy Life toolkit is a very useful guide to help review and determine the sustainability principles of emerging developments. 

Page updated: 24/07/2024

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