Buildings must be distinctive’

DEVELOPERS of sites in Huntingdonshire, one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, are warned that planners will insist on local distinctiveness for the district and will not accept standard developments. The district council s updated design gui

DEVELOPERS of sites in Huntingdonshire, one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, are warned that planners will insist on "local distinctiveness for the district and will not accept "standard" developments.

The district council's updated design guidance, which is out for public consultation until February 9, categorises every area of the 350 square mile-district (91,000 hectares). It explains in some detail what sort of development will be allowed where.

The two documents offer advice covering large scale residential development to warehousing, small house extensions, local materials, and sets out information required in support of planning applications.

The updated draft has new sections on contemporary design and sustainable design, both of which are promoted alongside more traditional methods.

Steve Ingram, the council's head of planning services, said: "The most important thing is that the district council remains in a position to deliver development that is right for Huntingdonshire - and that means that it must take account of local character and make the best of opportunities that sites offer.

"We expect development to be tailored to its particular site. We will not accept standard solutions as these will do nothing to reinforce the character of our district."

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One of the consulted documents is the updated Landscape & Townscape Assessment, which provides an analysis of the character of Huntingdonshire's landscape, towns and villages. It provides essential reference material for the delivery of planning and development proposals which are appropriate to their context, HDC says.

INFORMATION: The Design Guide and Landscape & Townscape Assessment documents can be viewed in Planning Reception at Pathfinder House, at local libraries or on-line at Comments should be made in writing to the head of planning services, HDC, Pathfinder House, St Mary's Street, Huntingdon, or on-line to

Both draft supplementary planning documents are part of the council's "local development framework", which will replace the existing Huntingdonshire Local Plan.

- The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed the Treasury-commissioned review of planning laws that would make it simpler for small businesses to go ahead with minor developments and extensions without the need for planning permission.

But the FSB warned that any changes to planning laws must still allow for the proper scrutiny of supermarkets, which are already under investigation by the Competition Commission for the alleged abuse of existing planning laws.

FSB Huntingdonshire Chairman Malcolm Lyons said: "The Barker review is good news for small businesses finding themselves mired in the red tape of drawn-out planning applications.

"Proposals that make the process of expanding and developing small business premises easier and faster will be of great benefit to local communities and the economy as a whole.

"However, changes must not give a green light to bigger businesses to ride roughshod over legitimate local concerns about large-scale developments.