Understanding Context

Any new development of any scale in any location needs to reference and respond to the positive context that surrounds the site. Throughout, this Guide promotes a context-led approach for all new development to follow and this section provides suggestions on how to undertake both context appraisals and Design and Access Statements, the steps to follow and the subject areas to address. This includes considerations for:

The Built Context  providing a demonstrable appreciation of built form in the vicinity covering analyses of building style, form, height and as well as the pattern of streets and spaces, morphology, skylines and landmarks.

The Environmental Context – open spaces, bio-diversity structure, landscape character, areas liable to flood.

The Functional Context – examining the existing activities and functions in the vicinity of the site including the existing pattern of uses, economic development initiatives, health, education & community facilities and public art.

The Spatial Context  - identifying the development site’s position within the urban hierarchy.

The Operational Context showing how infrastructure and facilities are used and their capacity to accommodate further demands.

The Community Context seeking to determine the reasonable and realisable needs and demands for space within an area and to associate these demands with the known existence of vacant or under-used space and the potential for creating new space.

The Historic Context seeking to encourage new development that respects and fits in with the character of traditional historic form of the Essex towns and villages the development will take place within.

This guidance also outlines and provides links to a number of key resources that should be used as part of any context appraisal including:

  • Historic Characterisation Reports;
  • Landscape Character Assessments;
  • Ecology & Biodiversity Assessments;
  • Conservation Area Appraisals and;
  • Local Area Design Guides.

As well as suggesting resources and processes to be used to undertake a context appraisal we have created a Sample Context Appraisal to demonstrate how the process can be used to form the basis of future design.

Page updated: 6/08/2018

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