GCC New Residential Areas: Design Guide

/ Chris Simmonds / Places to live

The studio reviewed the Design Guide - New Residential Areas for Glasgow. This new document has the potential to shape the city for the next generation. It seeks to do so by merging roads design, planning and SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage) challenges.

In an interesting preface to the discussion the Places to Live CoG members sketched out their home environment from Netherlee terrace housing onto streets winding up hills at Netherlee with parking on street with minimal in curtilage parking. Victorian Langside villas with streets full of cars during the day due to the nearby hospital but empty at night. West End Victorian blocks where clever amenity settings can somehow absorb the cars, mixed blocks of tenements. Finally at terraces in Rutherglen where a daily struggle for car parking takes place to the urban apartment block with undercroft parking.

If there was a conclusion it was that most of these environments had been built without any parking standards and they work. Is there a clue there?

New guidance brings together a broad range of guidance from government.

The new Design Guide is broken clearly into three parts, what you do first ie. the appraisals and assessing the surveys required, then developing the strategic conceptual layout in two ways , as a narrative and and layout (following the Bavarian B Plan) and finally the detail design. Each of these stages in a plan development are to be tested against the following core principles - place making,design for movement, SUDS, flood risk assessment and flood solutions, integrated landscape and open space and integrated parking strategy.

The detailed design advice is informative of the direction of the guidance in advocating, preferred street proportions which as they get wider should have trees, promotion of the perimeter block typology, advocacy of car parking to side or rear in courtyards, no vehicles in front of houses, no cars in front gardens, carriageway of 4.8 widening to 7.3 where necessary, bus route width of 6m, shared surfaces in low traffic areas.

On parking provision and management, there is a presumption of 125% parking with social rented housing an exemption but requires to be proven together with general principles of restricted parking zones and controlled parking zones.

On street parking requires to be designed to avoid confusion and indiscriminate parking by residents.

A wide variety of SUDS and flood management requirements are to be integrated into the stratedgy including, swales, basins, ponds, bio-retention areas, pervious paving and oversized pipes and tanks.

The landscape amenity and open space will be shaped by a desire to link spaces together along a green corridor, designing amenity spaces with play space, combining parks with SUDS features wetlands and sports pitches, the use of communal gardens as spaces people will take natural ownership of, street trees and shrubs as bio retention and play spaces conceived as playable.

Identified as of importance are also walking cycling and public transport, building lines and aspect, services, street materials and refuse

Three sample layouts are included in the guidance, semi detached, terrace and tenemental. An initial testing of the density and parking layout shows how challenging it will be to deliver tenemental scale and parking strategies that meet the 125% ratios.

Conclusions

Glasgow is trying to get to grips with Designing Streets policy from the Scottish Government. The strategy would appear to suggest a back to the future approach which if the evidence of people in the office is to be taken is how many live now.

The SUDS issues are a challenge to urban environments and it remains to be seen how the retained parking standards match these aspiration although exceptions are possible. Is the result that only social rented housing will be tenemental and urban. Is one standard for tenemental and suburban areas right should there not be two separate ones.

The guidance does attempt to reconcile a wide number of issues but perhaps would benefit from asserting in its detailed design information the preeminence of place making and the pedestrian. Health and in particular obesity are huge environmental problems for our society. Physical exercise can contribute 25% to tackling that problem and that means simply walking. We spend a huge amount of time discussing car parking, that needs to shift to the pedestrian quality of our environment and by implication place making ie making it nice to be a pedestrian.

Finally the comment was reinforced why should we have parking standards when areas that were not designed for parking work, and if the car park is a priority then live somewhere else. Otherwise the mantra that everyone aspires to a 4 wheel drive will be met as as you can park in a swale.