Last edited 16 Feb 2023

Building Design in the Surrey Hills


[edit] Introduction

The appearance of the Surrey Hills has been shaped for centuries by the changing patterns of land use and settlement. The end result is a rich and diverse built heritage featuring many small farmsteads, pleasant hamlets with village greens and grand houses set in parkland. Local materials like stone, flint, tile, brick and timber are featured throughout the Surrey Hills, defining the sense of place.

The following principles should be adopted for all forms of development within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), whether inside or outside settlements, or for large and small developments, including those for which planning permission is not required. These principles should be referred to in the Design and Access Statement accompanying a planning application to demonstrate how the proposal helps to conserve and enhance the beauty of the Surrey Hills landscape.

[edit] Respect the pattern of the settlement, its open spaces and greens

Contain development within the settlement; reflect established (historic) street and plot patterns; maintain variable building lines; respect the contribution of open spaces and village greens to character and form and generally avoid closes and cul-de-sacs.

[edit] Conserve the character of the setting

Avoid development on skylines, prominent spurs and open slopes; make maximum use of existing trees and landscape features to shield development; new buildings adjacent to traditional ones should link through elements such as scale, form, colour and materials to create a coherent larger group.

[edit] Complement the scale, height and proportion of buildings

Aim for harmony with the height and massing of existing development; retain density and relationship between roofscape and tree cover when viewed from outside the settlement.

[edit] Celebrate the detailing of buildings and architectural features

Surrey buildings have a wide range of styles; extensions should respect the host; new buildings should pick up local characteristics – forms of building, existing proportions (windows and doors), roof designs and elevational details.

[edit] Choose appropriate materials and finishes

Surrey buildings use a wide range of materials and finishes which may be locally specific; maintenance, improvement or extensions should respect the host and new buildings should explore the existing local palette of colour and finishes or justify innovative solutions.

[edit] Promote contemporary architecture

High quality contemporary architecture can extend the diversity and character of settlements, and if sensitively designed, can be suitable in open countryside.

[edit] Value the treatment of boundaries

Retain the variety in, and characteristics of, boundary treatments – walls, hedges, fencing as appropriate; natural boundaries should use native species not conifers such as cypresses.

[edit] Use native trees and shrubs

The Surrey Hills is a heavily wooded landscape which is a key part of its character. Retain existing trees wherever possible; use native varieties of trees and shrubs in planting schemes.

[edit] Cherish designed landscapes

Parkland makes an important contribution to the area’s picturesque scenery and provides a sense of continuity and grand scale. Retain estate and parkland character, boundary walls, gates, fencing, lodges and estate cottages.

[edit] Celebrate local distinctiveness

The diversity in the geology, soils and land use has created a diverse landscape. This is a key feature of the Surrey Hills, and local character should be cherished and reinforced.

[edit] Be creative on access and parking

Seek to minimise the impact of vehicular access and parking, including hard surfacing; improve the network of pedestrian and cycle routes; seek opportunities to increase footpath access between settlement and countryside.

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