29 Side Street Development

29.1. General principles

These sites occur where existing garages or other outbuildings, or rear amenity space face directly onto a secondary street, and the distance from the rear of a house on the primary street is sufficient to allow new dwellings to be developed in place of existing structures.

Side street development must benefit from direct access to the public highway. The development of rear gardens without a street frontage will not be supported.

New houses should generally be subservient to those fronting the primary street; the highest point of the new house should be below that of the property on the corner.

There should be clear separation between the backs of existing houses and sides of the new one. A minimum distance of 10m is usually required to ensure sufficient rear garden space, maintain privacy, and achieve visual separation between existing habitable room windows and the blank walls of new development. This should be increased to 16m where windows serving habitable rooms face one another.

New homes should respect their neighbours. Usually there should be no less than 10m between the blank wall of a new home and an existing window serving a habitable room; and no less than 16m between facing windows (unless steps are taken to achieve privacy in some other way).

A drawing of a street featuring a building with green walls and trees in gardens.
Figure 148: A side street development that protects existing trees
A diagram of some small homes at the back of a garden.
Figure 149: The side boundaries of secondary streets can provide an opportunity to construct one or more modest homes. Often such sites are occupied by existing garages or outbuildings.

Street-facing windows at ground floor should be designed to ensure adequate privacy for inhabitants.

Upper floors should avoid direct overlooking of adjacent gardens. Roof windows can be used to allow daylight into bedrooms but prevent views down into others’ private space.

Where possible, houses should have opening windows on more than one elevation to ensure acceptable living conditions, providing adequate sunlight and cross-ventilation.

Dwellings with only north-facing windows will not be supported.

Front doors should be set back from the street to provide privacy and shelter, and where possible, defensible space should be provided for ground floor windows facing the street.

Because side street development is usually within close proximity to the public highway, it is generally not necessary to provide special means for handling waste and recycling. However, storage for waste bins should be integrated into the design of new dwellings so that they do not clutter the pavements.

A new house cannot directly overlook the first 10m of a rear garden of neighbouring houses, nor can they create significant overshadowing of external space. The standards set out in section 12.4 should be adhered to for new side street development.

A creative architectural response is usually required to make the best use of these site and design excellence is expected in any planning applications for new homes in these locations.

A photograph of a metal building at the end of a terrace between two gardens.
Figure 150: This scheme by Tectonics Architects achieves a certified Passivhaus home on a small side-facing site in Hackney. (website: www.tectonics-architects.com, photography: Alex Sarginson)
A contemporary wooden building at the end of a terrace between two gardens.
Figure 151: New house facing St Paul’s church in Deptford designed by Jonathan Pile. (website: www.oval-uk.com, photography: Gareth Gardner)
A diagram showing how a new development can fit into an end of terrace garden.
Figure 152: A new development can replace street-facing garages or outbuildings, providing that a minimum distance of 10m from the rear of the existing house on the site is maintained.
A diagram showing a garden development at the same height as nearby buildings.
Figure 153: New side street development on secondary streets should be subservient to the properties either side, and no taller than the highest point of those buildings.
A diagram showing how new houses can be slotted into existing end of terrace gardens.
Figure 154: Where two existing properties have back-to-back gardens, there exists the potential for two new dwellings to be provided.
A diagram showing how these new dwellings should maintain the existing height of surrounding buildings.
Figure 155: Window positions should be carefully considered to avoid direct overlooking of the first 10m of neighbouring gardens, and the height of new buildings should ensure that adequate daylight and sunlight reaches existing habitable rooms and rear gardens.