Chilterns Buildings Design Guide and supplementary technical notes

Chilterns Buildings Design Guide and supplementary technical notes
Chilterns Buildings
an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
An integral part of the outstanding Chilterns'
landscape is its wealth of attractive villages and
buildings. Many older buildings demonstrate good
design and construction practice in relation to
siting and orientation, the sourcing of materials,
the ability to be repaired and thermal mass. The
task of the Chilterns Conservation Board is to
ensure the special qualities of the Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are conserved
and enhanced. The first edition of the Chilterns
Buildings Design Guide (published in 1999)
provided guidance about the erection of new
buildings and the extension and conversion of
older ones. In the same year the annual Chilterns
Buildings Design Awards scheme was instigated.
This is still run in conjunction with The Chiltern
Society and celebrates projects that have made a
positive contribution.
The Design Guide has been supplemented by a
series of Technical Notes on the use of flint, brick
and roofing materials in the Chilterns. In addition
environmental guidelines for the management of
highways in the Chilterns have been produced. By
disseminating this information the Board has done
much to promote good design in the Chilterns over
the past decade, and it is gratifying to see Design
and Access Statements making reference to this
advice and translating it into more carefully
constructed and detailed buildings.
Nevertheless, pressures for development, both in
the AONB and the surrounding area, have
intensified. Increased housing allocations are
placing strains on larger settlements around the
margins of the AONB, infilling threatens to destroy
the openness of many villages, the unsympathetic
conversion of redundant buildings continues to
erode rural character. At the same time, the
framework for controlling development has
continued to evolve.
provided to reach maturity. If these decisions are
poorly made the passage of time will not be kind.
This second edition of the Design Guide has
therefore been produced to provide updated
guidance and contribute to the maintenance of the
Chilterns' landscape for future generations.
Sir John Johnson
Chilterns Conservation Board
There is now greater awareness of the need to
ensure that developments are sustainable in their
design and construction with more thought being
given to the use of locally produced building
materials for example. The potential impacts of
climate change are also being addressed with
better insulation, the use of renewable energy
technologies and adaptations for severe weather
The Board decided that a review process should be
instigated. This has involved a consideration of the
whole document. The Board is keen to stress that
design really matters and that it is important to
get the details right from the outset. The decisions
made today will produce buildings that will last for
100 years or more so we must ensure that we
choose materials that will weather well and must
allow enough space for landscaping that is
ISBN - 978-0-9545242-5-8
Published February 2010
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Chapter 1
Chapter 3
The special and distinctive character
of the Chilterns
The Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
The planning context
Chapter 2
Settlements and buildings in the
The landscape
Major land uses
The impact of settlements on the landscape
Modern development
Settlement patterns and village character
Chapter 5
Designing new buildings
Conversion of buildings
The location and siting of new development
The individual building
The scale and form of new buildings
The 'one-off' design
Windows and doors
Access, parking and garages
Landscape setting
New hedges, trees and other planting
Paving and other hard surfaces
Other small-scale permitted development
Conversion of farm buildings
Structure and original features
Inside the building
Context and surroundings
Other buildings in the countryside
Further advice
Villages by general landscape type
Chapter 4
Agricultural and other rural
employment buildings
Location, siting and scale
Integration with existing buildings
Roof design
Other agricultural development
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Chapter 1
The special and distinctive character of the Chilterns
1.1 A large part of the Chiltern Hills is designated
as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in
order to conserve and enhance the special
qualities of the landscape.
The Chilterns was designated an Area of Outstanding
Natural Beauty in 1965. (Hughenden Valley)
1.2 The Chilterns is a belt of high ground
stretching from the River Thames at Goring in
Oxfordshire, north-eastward through
Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire and into
Hertfordshire, where it almost reaches Hitchin. It
is fringed by substantial settlements, including
Luton, Dunstable, Hemel Hempstead,
Berkhamsted, Chesham, Amersham, Beaconsfield,
High Wycombe, Marlow, Henley-on-Thames and
Reading. The hills are formed by an outcrop of
chalk on the north-western side of the London
basin. The chalk strata have been tilted to create
a dip-slope that rises so gently to the north-west
that it generally has the character of a plateau.
However, it ends abruptly in a steep scarp slope,
which forms the more dramatic north-western face
of the Chilterns. The plateau is cut by a series of
through valleys that divide it into roughly
rectangular blocks, with many branching dry
valleys further dividing these blocks, to create a
varied mix of landscapes.
1.3 The most notable feature of the characteristic
vernacular buildings in the AONB, both in villages
and elsewhere, is the consistent use of materials,
especially the flints that occur in both the chalk
strata and the overlying clay with flints. Flint is
often combined with brick, both in the walls of
older buildings and in boundary walls around
gardens. Most vernacular buildings also have tiled
roofs, with the tiles often having been made from
local iron clay. Thatch appears relatively
infrequently, with notable concentrations in the
northern and southern extremities of the AONB.
1.4 The use of brick, flint and tiles is
characteristic of many of the historic farmsteads,
which are important landscape features
throughout the Chilterns. The largest and often
oldest building in the farmstead is usually a
timber-framed threshing barn. Other timber
buildings might include hay barns, cart- and
implement sheds, granaries and livestock housing.
Like the barns these are often clad with black,
horizontal weather-boarding. From the early 19th
century, brick and flint farm buildings became
more common, and barns in this style often
incorporated a number of vertical ventilation slits
and an owl hole. In a few places other types of
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
The Chilterns Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty
historic farm buildings remain, including
occasional timbered granaries raised on staddle
1.5 Churches are also important in the landscape
and are often built out of flint, with or without the
addition of dressings in 'clunch' / Totternhoe or
other stone or brick. In places puddingstone, a
flint and pebble conglomerate, or sarsen stones,
large sandstone boulders dug out from the Reading
Beds, have been used for foundation blocks or for
cornerstones. This range of materials is apparent
throughout the Chilterns area and contributes to
the unity of the landscape. There is
no particular architectural style that
Grand Union Canal
is characteristic of the area, but
rather a mix of styles from
different periods all making
use of traditional materials
in different
The Chilterns Conservation Board
River Thames
1.6 The Chilterns were designated as an Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1965 by the
Government. The primary purpose of the
designation is the conservation and enhancement
of the natural beauty of the landscape, which
includes wildlife, physiographic features and
cultural heritage as well as the more conventional
concepts of landscape and scenery. It is given in
recognition of the special quality and character of
the landscape, and encourages landowners and
local authorities to manage the area in ways which
will ensure its protection now and in the future.
River Thames
River Thames
The Chilterns AONB designation
10 km
6 miles
1.7 In 2000, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act
(the CRoW Act) allowed the formation of
Conservation Boards for AONBs, and in 2004 the
Chilterns Conservation Board was formally
established as the statutory body to conserve and
enhance the Chilterns AONB. The Board has a duty
to have regard to the purpose of conserving and
enhancing the natural beauty of the AONB and the
purpose of increasing the understanding and
enjoyment by the public of the special qualities of
the AONB, with greater weight being attached to
the first purpose. The Board shall also seek to
foster the economic and social well-being of local
communities within the AONB.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
1.8 To help the management of the area and to
encourage conservation of the special qualities of
the AONB, a comprehensive management plan for
the AONB, A Framework for Action - was published
in 2008. The Management Plan emphasises the
importance of local buildings and villages to the
overall character of the Chilterns and includes
various broad aims and policies applicable to the
built environment.
Traditional buildings
play an important
part in the Chilterns
landscape. (Hambleden)
The CRoW Act also includes the following duty:
'Section 85: In exercising or performing any
functions in relation to, or so as to affect, land
in an area of outstanding natural beauty, a
relevant authority shall have regard to the
purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural
beauty of the area of outstanding natural
beauty.' 'Relevant authorities' include local
planning authorities.
For details of the Board and its many activities
please visit the Chilterns AONB website or contact
the Conservation Board office (see further advice
1.9 The Chilterns AONB falls into 3 counties, 2
unitary authorities, 7 districts and 1 borough. A
major task of the Chilterns Conservation Board is,
therefore, to ensure the effort to conserve and
enhance the Chilterns does not vary from one part
to another, and between constituent local
planning authorities. One of the primary reasons
for producing this document is to ensure
consistency between all of these authorities in
promoting elements of good design and
characteristics of buildings which are commonly
found across the Chilterns.
1.11 This Guide provides information on the
following aspects of building in the Chilterns
The character of the Chilterns AONB
The way in which settlements and other
buildings fit into the countryside
The special character of villages
Ways in which new buildings can be
sympathetically incorporated into the
village/countryside setting
Design features and details of individual
buildings and small developments
Scope of this guidance and
relationship to other design
guidance produced by the
Chilterns Conservation Board
The Chilterns Buildings Design
1.12 This Guide is one of five documents relating
to design produced by the Chilterns Conservation
Board. They are:
1.10 The Chilterns Buildings Design Guide provides
guidance on ways in which the outstanding and
distinctive qualities of the Chilterns AONB can be
conserved or enhanced when building takes place.
This can include new buildings, extensions,
conversions, redevelopment, and alterations to the
environment of streets and public spaces within
1) Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
2) Chilterns Buildings Design Guide Supplementary
Technical Note – Chilterns Flint
3) Chilterns Buildings Design Guide Supplementary
Technical Note – Chilterns Brick
4) Chilterns Buildings Design Guide Supplementary
Technical Note – Chilterns Roofing Materials
5) Environmental Guidelines for the Management
of Highways in the Chilterns
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
1.14 The Objectives of this Design Guide are to:
Raise awareness of the quality of the traditional
built character of the Chilterns AONB
Help identify and protect the distinctive
traditional built character of the Chilterns AONB
and thereby promote local identity
Inspire high quality design in new developments
which respect the traditional built character of
the AONB
Re-establish traditional character in areas of
the AONB where it has been damaged or eroded
Provide a co-ordinated and integrated approach
for design advice throughout the AONB
Attractive buildings add appeal to the landscape.
(Bryant’s Bottom)
1.13 This Guide covers all types of new buildings,
which includes housing, employment and
agricultural uses and the conversion of buildings for
various new purposes, as well as the environment
around the buildings. Some of the principles in the
Environmental Guidelines for the Management of
Highways in the Chilterns may also be applicable
to some developments. It should be noted that
much greater detail on the use of flint, local brick
and roofing materials is provided in the three
supplementary technical notes detailed above and
reference should be made to these when
considering these particular aspects of a building's
Ensure that appropriate development respects
its local context and the wider landscape
Promote sustainability in design and use of
resources, particularly locally produced building
Why has this Design Guide been
1.15 The Board has long been concerned about the
detrimental impacts of urbanisation on the special
qualities of the AONB and believes that the Design
Guide provides useful advice for all those people
interested in development in the area. This
particularly applies to those with limited training
in design in rural areas or experience of this
nationally protected landscape.
1.16 By locating and designing new buildings in
ways which are sensitive to the character of the
Chilterns, they should become part of the
landscape and complement older buildings. This
guidance is based upon an analysis of: landform,
landscape, historical settlement patterns,
characteristic building styles, use of materials and
anticipated adjustments needed in the light of
climate change.
1.17 Whilst buildings in the Chilterns have always
exhibited a range of styles, they have historically
been constructed using similar, local materials
such as timber, flint, brick and plain clay roof
tiles. Being locally produced, these materials will
therefore have only travelled a short distance thus
leading to limited environmental impacts from
transport. Some local employment will also have
been secured. During the last hundred years or so,
the scale of development and the use of
standardised designs and non-local materials, have
become much more common. The result is that
many villages are losing their distinctive character
and the special sense of place created by older
Attractive new
development is based
on location and design
principles which are
sympathetic to the
landscape and existing
character of local
villages. (Bledlow,
credit HFP Architects)
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
buildings. In the past decade or so, the tide has
begun to turn due to an increasing appreciation of
the importance of good design and the need to use
locally-produced materials. This Guide has been
produced to ensure that all new development in
the AONB conserves and enhances local character
rather than detracts from it. This fit can often be
achieved by using traditional building materials
that have been locally made.
1.18 The primary consideration is:
To ensure that any new building respects the
natural beauty of the Chilterns, reinforcing the
sense of place and local character.
1.19 The Design Guide identifies the primary
features and characteristics which have helped to
create the distinctive qualities of the built
environment in the Chilterns.
This typical 1960s
is not in keeping
with traditional
designs and
use of materials.
(Hyde Heath)
1.20 By responding to these factors in the location
and design of new buildings, they are more likely to
become part of the built tradition of the Chilterns.
This does not mean that all new designs must be a
copy of buildings from previous eras, or should
utilise only local materials. It gives sufficient
flexibility to allow new designs and innovation,
which still respect the distinctive qualities of the
Who should use this Design Guide?
1.21 The Design Guide is intended to be used by all
involved in the development process: owners,
architects, designers, builders, planning authorities,
parish councils, and any organisation or individual
with an interest in the built environment of the
Chilterns AONB.
The planning context
National guidance
1.22 All planning authorities are being encouraged
to promote high quality design in new
developments and to take account of published
guidance and good practice on design. It is
considered proper to seek to promote or reinforce
local distinctiveness where supported by clear plan
policies or supplementary planning documents on
design. The production of this guidance is
consistent with this approach.
1.23 To accord with Planning Policy Statement 1:
Delivering Sustainable Development and Planning
Policy Statement 7: Sustainable Development in
Rural Areas, planning authorities should prepare
robust policies on design and key objectives should
ensure that developments respond to their local
context and create or reinforce local
distinctiveness. In order to achieve this planning
authorities should have regard to good practice and
should seek to promote or reinforce local
distinctiveness where this is supported by clear
plan policies or supplementary planning documents
on design. The Chilterns Buildings Design Guide has
been drafted with this in mind. This approach has
been taken to reflect fully the characteristics of
the Chilterns AONB, which lies within 13 local
planning authorities. The Chilterns Conservation
Board believes this document is necessary to ensure
consistency across so many local authority areas.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Development plans
1.24 National planning policy to conserve and
enhance 'local distinctiveness' is reflected in
planning policy statements, regional spatial
strategies and the development plan documents
that make up Local Development Frameworks. This
Design Guide is intended to supplement and
complement the local development plans and
other design guidance produced by local planning
authorities, and does not replace these policies
and guidance. It has been produced to assist
planning authorities in their task of conserving and
enhancing the environment of the Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty.
1.25 This Guide aims to be consistent with all
Development Plans covering the Chilterns AONB
and, as such, local planning authorities may use
this guidance as a supplementary planning
document to achieve these aims. This guidance will
be reviewed periodically to ensure this aim is being
To check the status of the Chilterns Buildings
Design Guide in your area, please contact your
local planning authority.
1.26 It is national policy to limit new development
throughout the AONB, and all the local planning
authorities have adopted stringent development
restraint policies in their development plans. These
policies reflect the national guidelines for the
protection of areas of high environmental quality
and landscape importance.
1.27 In the AONB, limitations on development are
reinforced by policies to maintain the Metropolitan
Green Belt, and the Green Belt around Luton and
Dunstable. Although there is only limited
development potential, it is anticipated that there
will be some opportunity for infilling,
redevelopment, extensions, conversions and other
small-scale development. These potentially
permissible developments are regulated and
defined by the relevant development plans of the
local planning authorities and the application of
national planning policy as it applies to the Green
Use of the Guide in making
decisions on planning applications
in the AONB
1.28 This Design Guide is not a statutory
document, but is a material planning consideration
in decision making on planning applications. Local
planning authorities will expect all planning
applications in the AONB to demonstrate how these
guidelines have been taken into account. Circular
01/06: Guidance on changes to the development
control system, says that design and access
statements should explain the design principles
and concepts that have informed a development
and how access issues have been dealt with.
1.29 Adherence to the Chilterns Buildings Design
Guide does not mean that development proposals
will necessarily be approved. Other planning policy
considerations may make a proposal unacceptable.
Proposals which do not fully reflect the guidelines
are unlikely to be acceptable to the local planning
authorities which have adopted them as a
supplementary planning document. For planning
applications where this Guide applies considerable
weight should be given to it as a material planning
Conservation Areas and Listed
1.30 In conservation areas designated by local
planning authorities, and in the case of buildings of
special architectural or historic interest – listed
buildings – specific design and planning guidance
and policies are likely to apply for some, often
small, changes. In some areas Article 4 Directions
may be in place that require planning applications
to be made for small-scale proposals. You should
contact your local planning authority for details.
'Traditional' cottages
help to create the
unique character
of the Chilterns.
(Little Missenden)
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
1.31 This document may also provide a context for
the review of conservation area boundaries and
the policies applying to them. In some cases
appraisals and management proposals have been
produced for individual Conservation Areas. These
will identify the particular character of the area
and may include specific design advice.
Village Design Statements and
Parish Plans
1.32 In recent years, new approaches have been
developed to help local communities identify and
conserve local character in each village. Local
communities can produce their own Village Design
Statements and Parish Plans. These describe the
distinctive character of individual villages and the
surrounding countryside, and identify design
principles which should influence future
development in individual settlements.
1.33 The concepts were developed and introduced
by Natural England's predecessors the Countryside
Commission and Countryside Agency as a means of
helping to conserve and enhance local
distinctiveness. The Chilterns Buildings Design
Guide provides a wider context for the preparation
of Village Design Statements and Parish Plans
which may be adopted by local planning
authorities as supplementary planning documents.
For further information about village design
statements and parish plans please contact your
local Parish or District Council.
1.34 The Chilterns Conservation Board encourages
communities across the AONB to produce Village
Design Statements and Parish Plans and in doing so
it would be useful to refer to the findings detailed
in the Chilterns Historic Landscape
Characterisation Project report.
Consultation on the preparation of
the Chilterns Buildings Design
1.35 During April and May 2009 a consultation draft
of this Design Guide was issued for public
consultation. Copies of the document were sent
out to: local, regional and national bodies, a
significant number of interested people, libraries,
local architects, developers and building
companies. All local authorities in the Chilterns
were consulted. At the close of the consultation
period over 400 comments had been received from
nearly 40 respondents representing a cross section
of those consulted. The comments made were all
assessed and responses were prepared and
approved at the Board's Planning Committee.
Following this changes were made to the document
which was then approved and adopted by the
Conservation Board. The Board has asked that local
authorities endorse the Guide.
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Settlements and buildings in the landscape
2.1 The environmental features which
contribute to the character of villages and
buildings are:
Landform – the topography of the Chilterns
The landscape with its variety of land uses
The geographical distribution of villages in
the landscape
The traditional development patterns and
special characteristics of villages, groups of
buildings or individual buildings
The architectural features and designs of
individual buildings
The use of materials
The relationship between buildings and the
spaces between them
2.2 The first step when considering any new
development is to think about what effects it will
have on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Because many developments have implications for
the landscape, an appraisal of the detrimental
impacts will often be required. Any impacts should
be carefully considered, avoided where possible,
and where unavoidable they should be mitigated or
compensated for. The starting point should
therefore be a consideration of what is there at
the moment, and the following descriptions of
some of the key aspects of the Chilterns and the
local village types will help.
Chapter 2
2.3 The underlying chalk geology of the Chilterns
creates an escarpment, rising to 265 metres
running from Goring-on-Thames in the south-west,
approximately 70 kilometres north-eastwards to
Hitchin in Hertfordshire. The steep scarpface faces
to the north-west and the gentler dip-slope southeastwards to the Thames and London Basin. Much
of the dip-slope has the appearance of a plateau
and is dissected by valleys on its south-east side.
2.4 The Chilterns are divided by a series of valleys
running in a north-west to south-east direction: the
Hambleden, Wye, Misbourne, Chess, Bradenham,
Landscape types
Ridge and Plateau
Thames Valley
Bulbourne, Gade and Ver. As a result the dip-slope
is divided into areas of plateau and ridges, which
are themselves divided by many small, usually dry,
valleys called coombes. This creates a ridge and
valley topography, sometimes with steep sides, but
generally described as a rolling landscape.
2.5 In simple terms there are four components to
the landform of the Chilterns: the scarpface, the
ridge and plateau of the dip-slope, the main valley
systems and the Thames valley. The landform may
appear immune to impact from development,
however, the scarpface and ridge are particularly
sensitive to damage and an appreciation of
topography can help to improve the location of
development and minimise impacts.
The charm of local
villages is the blend of
their setting and the
traditional buildings.
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
2.6 There are a number of basic soil types. Chalk is
exposed or near to the surface on the scarpface,
The landscape
About two thirds of the
Chilterns is farmland
supporting a diversity
of agriculture including
arable, dairying, sheep
and small areas of
horticulture. (Fingest,
credit John Morris)
2.7 The appearance of the landscape is based upon
landform and natural features such as rivers and
woods, and land uses such as agriculture, forestry,
transport, industry and buildings. These factors
combine to influence the appearance of the
countryside and contribute to the character of
individual settlements in the landscape.
2.8 A comprehensive description of the Chilterns
landscape was published by the Countryside
Commission in 1992 (The Chilterns Landscape, CCP
392 1992). Further landscape characterisation
work has been undertaken at the Joint Character
Area level, at a regional level and at both County
and District Council levels, by the former
Countryside Agency and local authorities. Where
areas have been the subject of assessment they
are accompanied by a report which may include
information to help minimise, mitigate or
compensate for impacts. In addition, the Chilterns
Historic Landscape Characterisation Project has
produced a report that covers the whole of the
AONB. Further details on these documents are
available from Natural England and your local
planning authority.
Major land uses
2.9 Woods and trees feature strongly in the
Chilterns landscape. It appears even more heavily
wooded because of the number of small copses,
hedges, hedgerow and field trees and trees in
gardens and villages. The 'hanging' beech woods on
the upper slopes of the valley sides are
particularly characteristic of the Chilterns. The
wooded landscape does not stop at the edge of
most villages, as a considerable number of trees in
gardens help even 'leafy' suburban housing estates
to mellow and blend into the landscape.
2.10 About 60% of the Chilterns AONB is actively
farmed. The mixture of small and large fields,
often divided by large and ancient hedges, is a key
The Chilterns is one of the most heavily wooded areas
in the country with over 20% woodland cover. (Cholesbury)
influence on landscape character. There is a
mixture of farming types ranging from cereals,
some root crops, dairying, beef, sheep and an
increasing number of new crops such as maize,
rapeseed and linseed. Generally land can be
farmed up to the edge of most villages. The blight
which can occur around some larger towns, where
farming is very difficult, is almost absent from the
2.11 The farmland, farm buildings and the long
association between local villages and agriculture
have helped to give the area much of its special
appeal, and are vital in conserving its rural
character. The key issues affecting the erection of
new farm buildings are considered later in this
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Nature conservation and recreation
2.12 A significant area of land, covering thousands
of hectares in total, is managed primarily for
nature conservation and recreation by
organisations such the National Trust, Natural
England and the Wildlife Trusts. This includes
woodland, chalk grassland, chalk streams,
commonland and parkland. Often the same area is
managed for both objectives, including Dunstable
Downs, Coombe Hill near Wendover, Hughenden
Park and Watlington Hill.
Designed landscapes
2.13 Throughout the Chilterns there are designed
landscapes such as parklands and ornamental
gardens, often laid out by well known garden
designers such as Repton, Brown and Bridgeman.
The lack of building stone limited the number of
grand houses and stately homes, but where they
were built wealthy landowners often invested in
the parklands and large gardens. Many still survive,
such as Shardeloes, Chequers, Ashridge,
Mapledurham and Hughenden Manor.
Chalk grassland is a rare and declining habitat, much of
it is designated for its nature conservation importance.
The impact of settlements on
the landscape
2.14 An appreciation of the location, historical
pattern and evolution of settlements in the
landscape, and the character that has been
created, will help when considering how to design
and locate new buildings sustainably. This section
provides a brief history of the current settlement
pattern and identifies the main features and
influences which should provide inspiration for
new development, helping it to observe the spirit
of the traditional built heritage of the Chilterns.
There are many popular recreation sites especially on
the scarp ridge, such as the Ivinghoe Hills.
2.15 The impact of development on the landscape
is highly variable. Some parts of the Chilterns
appear to be timeless, and are comparatively free
from modern development. In other parts,
especially along major communication corridors
and close to large towns outside the AONB, the
impacts of housing, industry, modern technology
(e.g. masts and pylons) and the general clutter of
urban areas are more apparent and intrusive.
2.16 Whilst the general nature of the landform and
quality of the landscape is largely consistent
throughout the Chilterns AONB, there is no single,
unique building style which is characteristic of the
Chilterns and found in all parts. Elements of the
Chilterns character, especially in the use of
materials, can be detected in all settlements
despite these variations.
2.17 Generally settlements have remained
relatively small and compact, and in overall terms
they do not intrude significantly on the landscape.
There are some spectacular vistas along valleys
Parks designed by the
great garden designers
including Capability
Brown and Repton can be
found throughout the
Chilterns. (Shardeloes)
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
2.19 In the twentieth century the three main
factors influencing the growth of local settlements
were: the development of roads and railways, the
growth of London and the expansion of local towns
such as High Wycombe, Amersham, Berkhamsted
and Luton. Consequently, the older settlements
already on main routes and readily served by
railways have faced considerable pressure for
The rate of development
of a lot of settlements in
the Chilterns was slow
and many villages have
retained the character
created by older
buildings. (Penn)
free of major development where small
settlements add focus and life to the scene. The
small scale, even intimate nature of much of the
countryside, has helped to screen most villages,
many of which are hidden by the landform and
heavily wooded landscape. Ridgetop and plateau
villages, in particular, are often only visible to the
visitor as the settlements gradually emerge through
the trees. It is notable how seldom one village can
be seen from another.
Modern development
2.18 Until the late nineteenth century the
economy of the Chilterns was dominated by
forestry and agriculture and locally available
timber, flint and clay products were used for
2.20 During the 1920s and '30s much of the central
Chilterns was referred to as Metroland, although
the name was often applied to a much wider area.
The Metropolitan Railway Company encouraged
commuters to move out of London and settle in
towns where it was involved in developing large
suburban housing estates. This period of
development has left a significant and lasting mark
on many local towns. It represented the first wave
of major migration from towns and cities to the
Chilterns. It brought with it urban preconceptions
of what the countryside should be like, a new
approach to the promotion of countryside virtues
to an urban population and introduced suburban
styles and tastes.
2.21 The mobility offered by widespread car
ownership has resulted in a more recent and rapid
expansion of some villages on the plateau and
ridges not served by railways, including Kensworth,
Prestwood, Stokenchurch, Lane End and Woodcote.
In fact, Woodcote was designated as a 'specified'
village for development by Oxfordshire County
Council in the 1960s. Recent development has been
most striking in these settlements which lack a
Most modern development has used standard
building designs and materials commonly used
throughout the country and does not add to
the character of the local area. (Prestwood)
major historical core and have less defined
2.22 Some may argue there is little that is locally
distinctive about them as they resemble towns and
villages which can be found anywhere in the
country. There are, nonetheless, a small number of
older buildings within them which reflect the more
traditional character of villages in the Chilterns.
Conservation of the quality of the landscape setting
and the nature of new development are of great
significance in shaping the future of these villages.
2.23 Some villages can relate periods of their
growth to specific factors such as the creation of a
defence establishment, as in the case of Walters
Ash, near High Wycombe.
2.24 If this suggests that all modern development
has diluted the character of the Chilterns, it would
be a misleading impression, as some has continued
to respect the traditional Chiltern location
patterns, style and scale of buildings.
Unfortunately, a great deal has not.
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
The present day
2.25 Until the late nineteenth century
development was very gradual and most villages
changed slowly in response to agricultural rather
than industrial factors. As a result villages tend to
exhibit buildings from several ages as their
fortunes have fluctuated. Twentieth century
development was strongly driven by commuting
patterns to major towns and Greater London.
2.26 To many, the archetypal Chilterns village
comprises brick and flint cottages clustered around
a green and tucked away in a small valley. They do
exist but can be difficult to find in some parts of
the Chilterns. What is more common are buildings
scattered amongst extensive twentieth century
development, not destroying its previous character,
but altering it with standard designs and typical
twentieth century street patterns, which are
commonly found across the country.
2.27 The impact of twentieth century ribbon
development, often along major roads, had a
disproportionate effect. A few houses strung along
the roadside can give the impression of a
considerable amount of development, losing the
sense of villages hiding in the landscape, and even
obscuring the surrounding countryside from view.
2.28 Nationally prescribed highway standards are a
significant influence over the street patterns used
for current housing development. These standards
do not always help to integrate new developments
into existing settlements, and lead to roads
dominating the immediate surroundings. Designers
need to be imaginative to overcome the negative
influence of these standards on the appearance
and layout of the development. Useful reference
works are The Manual for Streets published by the
Department for Transport in 2007 and the
Environmental Guidelines for the Management of
Highways in the Chilterns published by the
Conservation Board and the Highway authorities in
2.29 The present position is that national, regional
and local planning policies severely restrict most
new development. Small-scale housing proposals
are likely to be the main form of development for
the foreseeable future. The current housing
forecasts suggest there will be continuing pressure
for more housing and from people who wish to live
in an attractive area, within commuting distance of
London and other major towns.
2.30 Older houses with traditional designs, are in
great demand and fetch a considerable premium
compared to their modern equivalents. Increasingly
the market is demanding houses which have
character and a traditional appearance, whilst
offering all modern conveniences.
2.31 This pressure is matched by a growing desire
to protect local distinctiveness, which has often
been undermined by the use of insensitive housing
designs and layouts. The importance attached to
the AONB designation is growing significantly as a
reflection of society's wish to conserve the
environment. It is in this overall scenario that this
design guidance must be effective, and help to
ensure that new development conserves the
existing traditional character of settlements and
wherever possible enhances it.
The impact of settlements and
development adjacent to the AONB
2.32 Development pressure in surrounding towns is
considerable and some of this will inevitably have
an impact on the AONB itself. The boundary of the
AONB is deliberately drawn to exclude many large
settlements such as Henley-on-Thames, High
Wycombe, Amersham, Berkhamsted, Dunstable and
Luton, because of their size and urban character.
Excluding them from the AONB does not, however,
mean they do not have an impact on the
designated area. In most cases there are extensive
views from the AONB, especially from the scarp
ridge and valley sides, across neighbouring towns.
The development at the former cement works at
Pitstone, the Wendover bypass and housing estates
around High Wycombe are all examples of how the
views from the Chilterns can be affected.
2.33 This guidance should also be used in
connection with proposals for development outside
the boundary which may have an impact on the
AONB and its setting.
The view from the
Chilterns can be
affected by development
in surrounding towns.
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Settlement patterns and village
2.34 Nearly all settlements in the Chilterns can be
found in four types of location: in valley bottoms,
at the foot of the scarpface, on the ridges and
plateau (where they are often associated with
common land) and along the north bank of the
River Thames. The names of many villages reflect
their location in the landscape (such as Ridge and
Bottom), or their form (Common, Green, Row and
Examples of flamboyant
architecture can be
found in estate owned
and managed villages.
2.35 The way in which new buildings and other
forms of development can be incorporated into the
village will vary slightly according to the type of
village and its location in the landscape. Many of
the primary development issues, especially those
related to scale and location, are addressed by the
policies in the various development plans, planning
policy guidance note for Green Belts and planning
policy statements for delivering sustainable
development (PPS1) and sustainable development
in rural areas (PPS7).
2.36 Some individual
settlements, often estate
villages, developed their own
particular design styles based
on the use of certain
materials and features which
gave a special and often
unique identity. When
considering new development
in such villages it is very
important for designers to
study carefully this local style, ensuring new
development proposals respect this character.
Examples include Chenies, Little Gaddesden and
2.37 The speed at which new development takes
place, which is a development plan issue, can
significantly affect the character of a village,
especially smaller settlements faced with
relatively large development pressure. Particular
care is needed, in terms of the pattern of
development and the appearance of new buildings,
to avoid 'swamping' the older parts of the
expanded settlement, thus eroding its character.
The escarpment
2.38 Although there are a few isolated buildings,
the scarpface is too steep for significant
settlements to develop. Many relatively small
pockets of open grassland still survive, and are
often owned by conservation organisations because
of their wildlife importance. Such sites include
Watlington Hill, Aston Rowant, Coombe Hill,
Ivinghoe Beacon, Dunstable Downs and the Barton
Hills. These sites provide extensive views to the
north across the Vales of Oxford and Aylesbury, and
are also visible from a considerable distance from
the north and west.
route which still follows the foot of the
escarpment. Most of these settlements are still
small in size but reveal their ancient origin and
importance with their impressive churches and
other monuments.
2.40 There are a series of broad, but distinctive,
valleys all running in a north-west to south-east
direction towards the London Basin. These include
the Hambleden, Wye, Misbourne, Chess, Bulbourne,
Gade and Ver valleys.
2.41 The valley bottoms are largely given over to
arable farming and the steeper slopes to dairy and
sheep, though in recent years the keeping of
livestock has declined. The tops of the valley sides
are often wooded, usually by beech woodlands
(sometimes known as hangers), which give a sense
of enclosure. The main communication corridors
historically ran along these valleys and continue to
do so today. This includes roads, railways and even
2.39 Most settlement has therefore occurred at
the foot of the escarpment. Examples of villages in
this location are Ewelme, Great Kimble,
Ellesborough and Hexton. Many have ancient
origins and partly owe their location to the Icknield
Way/Ridgeway which was an important trading
The scarpface and ridge is the most prominent feature
of the Chilterns and runs for over 70 kilometres from
Goring-on-Thames to Hitchin. (Aston Rowant,
credit Mike Fear)
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
2.46 Expansion in these areas accelerated in the
nineteenth century and reflects an era when
population pressure drove people onto less
productive land, where land prices were lower and
more extensive areas of common land existed. As an
indicator of their recent origin, very few of these
villages 'on the tops' have churches more than 150
years old.
the Grand Union Canal. There are many smaller dry
valleys (coombes) which are characterised by
minor roads and smaller hamlets and isolated
2.42 Three factors determined the location of
these villages: the availability of a reliable source
of water, better quality agricultural land and
proximity to main communication and trading
routes. Many of these villages can trace their
origins back for several centuries, and entries in
the Domesday Book are common. Most, if not all,
have medieval churches, usually built with flint
and bricks with a relatively small amount of
stonework. In the case of Little Missenden some of
the bricks were plundered from nearby Roman
2.43 Many of these older settlements have a
historic core, clustered around a green or along a
high street. Some have retained their 'nucleated'
form, such as Turville and Hambleden. Others have
grown into more substantial settlements and have
There are a string of settlements, often very ancient
in origin, nestling at the foot of the escarpment.
Many valley bottom settlements mark the site of
reliable springs and are usually ancient in origin.
become stretched along the valley, as in the case
of Great Missenden.
The plateau
2.44 The plateau is characterised by heavy clay
soils, often with substantial quantities of flints.
These areas tend to have extensive networks of
hedgerows, often ancient, and are intimately
mixed with woodlands, both small and large. The
result is a relatively small scale landscape
enclosed by woodlands where long distance views
are only glimpsed.
2.45 There are subtle distinctions in the Chilterns'
topography between ridges and broader areas of
the plateau, which have given rise to settlements
of different character. In general terms, the
ridgetop villages are more linear in form than
those on the plateau. Plateau settlements are
generally compact and exhibit suburban
2.47 Some of the hamlets on the plateau, such as
The Lee and Christmas Common, are little more
than clusters of cottages and farms, but these are
the exception. Most of the ridgetop villages are
larger and have a strong linear pattern. Villages
such as Bledlow Ridge, Naphill and Kensworth are
linear in form, and over the years have experienced
extensive infilling, creating an unbroken belt of
development, sometimes for over two kilometres. A
few retain strong associations with common land
such as Nettlebed, Cholesbury and Whipsnade. The
linear pattern at Prestwood has been lost as
development has swamped the common itself.
Sometimes the present day village is a short
distance from the original older settlement,
creating 'endships' such as Church End at Kensworth.
Some plateau
settlements have
remained small hamlets,
but several have grown
rapidly in recent years.
(Bledlow Ridge,
credit Gerry Whitlow)
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Minor roads up valleys and to plateau
Small new housing estate
Wooded entrances to villages
Ancient church
central to village
Close groups of old
cottages of various ages
Farming on lower valley
side, or in valley bottom
Old workshops and
outbuildings at the backs
Small greens at
road junctions
Manor or other large
houses within village
Valley bottom and scarpfoot
villages – nucleated form
Examples include: Hambleden, Turville,
Bradenham, Lilley and Ewelme
Most villages which lie at the foot of the
escarpment or in valley bottoms share similar
Characteristic qualities
Often nucleated with an obvious centre to the
Relatively compact layout, restricted by rising
valley sides
Usually have a backdrop of woodland and valley
Can be visible from elevated viewpoints on the
adjacent plateau or scarp
Generally partially hidden by trees and other
landscape features
Older buildings are prominent and establish the
distinctive character
Vulnerability to insensitive development
Development of gaps and at edges, reducing
the sense of enclosure, and obstructing or
spoiling views to the backdrop of countryside
“Improvements” of minor roads, access and
parking necessitated by increased usage, thus
reducing the compact, small-scale character
and rural atmosphere
Unsympathetic conversions of farms and
workshops, which are an integral part of the
village scene
New housing estates are likely to be of
uncharacteristic layout and design, out of
context with their surroundings and
unsympathetic to the adjacent village
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Ridgetop villages – loose linear form Examples include: Bledlow Ridge, Naphill and
Wooded edges to ridge
Characteristic qualities
The most positive qualities:
Ridgetop and plateau villages show many similar
Ridgetop villages are mainly linear, with a
prominent main street
Often adjacent to commonland
Small fields between
village and woodland
Woodland, hedgerows and topography generally
hide the village from its surrounding area
Unfenced road along ridge,
linking areas of common
Older houses in large plots,
built around edge of common
Other less attractive characteristics:
Rapid twentieth century development has
created a relatively suburban character
Often lack a historic core, with few older
Mixture of building styles diffuses the character
In plateau villages, most houses do not have a
direct view of the surrounding countryside
Can have a relatively hard edge between
housing and any adjacent farmland and woods
19th Century and later scattered and
infill housing along common side
Old holloways
down to valley
Series of areas
of common land
strung out along
Farms within and at
edge of settlement
Minor roads and tracks giving
access to groups of houses
Pond in former pit
(brick or marl)
Past encroachment
and squatting on
former common
Cricket pitch
on common
“Unused” common becoming
scrubbed over or wooded
Former common woodland
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Plateau villages
Vulnerability to insensitive development
Use of suburban house styles
Examples include: Woodcote, Prestwood, South
Heath, Hyde Heath and Wigginton
Mixture of styles dilutes the character
Remnants of dispersed settlement,
marginalised or swamped
A hard edge between housing and adjacent
Over-dominant road layout and highways
Excessive infilling which breaks visual links with
the countryside and affects historic character
Old hedges and copses
buried within housing
Small fields remaining
within settlement
Housing estates, developed field by
field over past 50 years or more
Abrupt edge between
farmland and housing
Farm at edge
of settlement
Victorian/Edwardian rows of villas early expansion of original settlement
Shopping centre, plus parking, pub, petrol
station, etc. incorporating some older buildings
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Valley-sides and the scarpface
2.48 Villages on valley sides or the scarpface are
scarce, Loosley Row in the Bradenham Valley being
a very rare example.
Thames valley
2.49 The extent of the valley on the north side of
the river is relatively restricted and in some places
the hills rise up from the river itself, notably at
Goring. The river and views of Berkshire to the
south, rather than the Chiltern Hills, dominate the
landscape. Wealthy people have long favoured this
area and the riverside is characterised by large
houses and estates which turn their back on the
Chilterns to face the river. They are often set in
secluded gardens and parks which are more visible
from south of the river. The large riverside houses
and estates have their own, often highly ornate
character, which has few similarities with the rest
of the Chilterns. Two villages, Goring-on-Thames
and Whitchurch-on-Thames are historically
important as Thames crossing points.
Ribbon development
2.50 A characteristic of the period from the 1930s
to 1960s was ribbon development, extending
ridgetop villages in particular, effectively into open
countryside. This regrettable type of development
has now generally ceased, but has had the effect of
The River Thames forms the south-western boundary
of the Chilterns, separating the area from the North
Wessex Downs to the west and the remainder of
Berkshire to the south.
giving the appearance of more extensive
development in the countryside than actually
exists. Examples of ribbon development include
Radnage, Hughenden Valley, Bellingdon and
Streatley. Other examples of ribbon development
occur along the roads leading from the valley
bottom to ridgetop villages. Naphill and Bledlow
Ridge are affected in this way.
Village character
2.51 On page 59 all villages are classified
according to their primary character type.
Inevitably some settlements demonstrate more
than one character type, in which case the
predominant one is used.
A special category is the Thames valley where the
houses often exhibit a range of styles which are
sometimes unusual or even flamboyant.
Chapter 2: Settlements and buildings in the landscape
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Thames-side villages
Characteristic qualities
Examples include: Goring-on-Thames, North and
South Stoke, Whitchurch-on-Thames, Mapledurham
and Medmenham.
Vulnerability to insensitive development
The river is the dominant natural and historic
Ribbon development linking core of the village
with a main road
Small and relatively compact settlements
Development which reduces the amenity and
visual impact of the river
Strong historic traditions
Main street usually leads to the river (bridge or
former ferry crossing point)
Buildings tend to be orientated towards the
Core of historic buildings, usually with a
medieval church
Large Victorian and Edwardian villas facing onto
the river on the outskirts of the towns and
Stately home between road
and river. Parkland/gardens
front onto river
Main road under hill
Pub and petrol station
at crossroads
Ribbon development
Thames busy with
pleasure craft
Victorian and later commercial
development and boatyard
Core of village
above flood level
Edwardian and later villas - large gardens, boat house,
tennis courts with jetty etc. - Thames most important aspect
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Designing new buildings
3.1 The principles set out in this Guide are
intended to assist not only with the design and
siting of new housing, and extensions to existing
housing, but also with a wide range of other
buildings, such as village halls, sports pavilions,
agricultural barns, rural employment buildings and
other commercial premises. If the building lies
within a conservation area designated by a local
planning authority or is a listed building it is
recommended that you seek advice from the local
planning authority at an early stage, as additional
controls may apply.
3.2 It is all too easy for a new building, poorly
located, with an unsympathetic design and
inappropriate use of materials, to detract from a
neighbourhood, street, village or view. By
adherence to some straight-forward principles and
guidelines, new buildings and extensions can
conserve or even enhance their village setting. It is
also vital that the detail is appropriate, avoiding
features which are ill-suited or uncharacteristic of
the Chilterns traditional building heritage. This
includes the need for repair or restoration work to
be sensitive to the original features of the
3.3 Architectural trends, new building techniques
and the introduction of different materials, have
changed the appearance of buildings from
generation to generation, introducing what were
considered to be modern designs in their time.
Innovative and imaginative architecture must be
allowed to continue. Those designs, which are
generally acceptable and have been the most
successful, owe much of their appeal to the way in
which they fit into the landscape and reflect the
building traditions of the area.
3.4 Traditional older buildings in the Chilterns are
small in scale. They are rarely visible from a
distance, except for their roofs, and 'close to'
views and building details are important, for both
the building itself and the street.
Environmentally sensitive design and
use of materials
Chapter 3
being felt more widely greater consideration will
need to be given to summer cooling (by appropriate
tree planting and building design and orientation
for example) and the impacts of more frequent
storm events (e.g. the careful design and
installation of higher capacity rainwater goods or
rainwater harvesting systems). Another key
consideration is the possible impact of
development on existing wildlife, particularly
protected species and nesting birds. Opportunities
should therefore be taken to build in features for
biodiversity such as bat and bird boxes and holes
and the planting of local and native species.
3.5 The use of energy efficient and
environmentally sensitive materials and building
techniques, combined with high quality locally
distinctive architecture can provide broad based
environmental benefits expected in an Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty. Greater consideration
should be given to more passive sustainable
approaches such as the use of greater levels of
insulation (sheep's wool or recycled materials such
as newsprint or plastic for example), the use of
natural paints or the installation of wood fuelled
burners. New developments should take advantage
of these materials and techniques, where
appropriate. In particular, the use, or appropriate
re-use, of locally produced building materials and
installation of sensitively sited and designed
renewable energy technologies (solar panels and
ground source heat pumps for example) should be
encouraged. With the impacts of climate change
This building has been designed to fit within its site and has
been orientated to make the most of the available light. (Bix)
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
The location and siting of new
3.6 Most development in open countryside is
severely restricted by local and national planning
policies and is likely to be on a small scale and
located within or on the edge of existing
3.9 Checklist
In general terms the location of new buildings
Avoid skylines and prominent spurs
Avoid open slopes
Be in harmony with the landscape when
considered from all views
Not extend ribbon development
3.7 The sensitive siting of a new building is vital
and should result in developments sitting in
harmony with the landscape. Considerable
importance is placed on appropriate planting to
ensure new developments are softened, though
this should not be seen as a method by which a
poorly designed development can be hidden. In
time these buildings should be adding to
the architectural heritage of the Chilterns.
The approach should be to ensure that
all views of new buildings are attractive
in themselves and enhance their
immediate environment both at close
quarters and at longer distances.
3.8 The characteristics of the
settlements described in Chapter 2
normally provide the context for
considering the location of new
development. This Guide aims to
protect and promote the positive
characteristic qualities of the Chilterns
settlements and avoid insensitive
development. There may also be
opportunities to mitigate the impact of
negative or unattractive characteristics.
Make maximum use of a site's contours
without major earthworks and the need to
excavate basements
Make maximum use of existing trees and
landscape features
Relationship of new buildings to the
landscape, neighbourhood and site
3.10 Checklist
Issues to consider when designing any new
development or extension:
The setting of the village or individual
building in the landscape
The nature and pattern of development in
the settlement
The features which contribute to the
character of the surrounding settlement
and older buildings, or the locality of an
older building
The location of the site within the
The nature of the site itself and its existing
landscape features
The relationship of the site to its neighbours
and the street
The existing street pattern and the
relationship of the proposed building to the
The materials used and design details of
traditional buildings
The scale and form of the proposed building
in relation to the site and neighbouring
Existing and proposed landscaping, including
boundary treatment, access roads and
This development makes maximum use of existing
landscape features. (Ewelme)
Ensuring new buildings add to the sense of
place and local character and belong to the
Chilterns, rather than lead to intrusive
'anywhere' development
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
The landscape qualities of the site
3.11 Checklist
Carry out a survey of all the landscape
qualities and features of the site,
identifying those which should be retained
or removed
Retain as many of the positive features as
possible, especially those which link the site
to the surrounding landscape
Protect these features during the
construction phase
Take note of any local patterns in terms of
garden size and layout
Ensure gardens are big enough to allow
some shrubs or trees to mature and help
landscape the development
Identify local landscape and design features
which help the building blend in with the
surrounding countryside
3.12 Because the Chilterns AONB is a nationally
protected landscape, the way in which the new
building respects the landscape is of paramount
importance. The immediate landscape around
buildings and villages is highly important to local
people and it is essential that this 'intimate'
landscape setting is not spoilt. New development
must blend into the renowned and much loved
wider scenery of the Chilterns.
3.13 Before any work begins on the site,
undertake a survey of all existing landscape
features, no matter how small. They are all part of
the existing landscape and the retention of
positive features will help to blend the new
development more readily into its surroundings,
and give it the character so highly prized and yet
rarely found. The most usual features are trees,
hedges, small earthworks, walls, fences and ponds.
3.14 The next stage is to come to a judgement
about which features should be designed in and
which should be designed out. A simple starting
point is to retain as many of these existing
features as possible. These are all difficult to
replace or would take many years to provide the
same effect if planted or created as part of a new
development. Take particular care to give them
protection during the construction phase when
they are vulnerable to damage (see BS 5837 : 2005,
Trees in relation to construction for advice). A
special effort should be made to retain trees and
hedges which were part of an old field pattern as
they not only provide a visual link with the
surroundings, but also a historical link with the
past. If a hedge has been neglected and is
overgrown or has gaps in it, it can be readily
restored with new planting and skilful pruning and
3.15 Often there is an established local pattern to
garden size and general layout, for example long
and narrow front or back gardens. Retaining this
pattern is part of helping any new development fit
into its immediate surroundings.
3.16 Historically there was often no clear edge
between town and country. The scatter of cottages
and the soft interface between the village and
surrounding woods and fields would have retained
the sense that the village was part of the
countryside. This characteristic is being lost as
villages have developed in ways which create a
hard edge, where they 'turn their backs' on the
countryside. Designers and planners should try to
avoid the creation of this hard 'edge'. This can be
achieved by emphasising the features which create
visual links with the surrounding countryside, such
as trees, hedges and earthworks. Tall solid fences
and walls appear as a considerable barrier and
tend to create a hard edge, and in the process
restrict views from the property.
This house uses existing
landscape features to
help it fit in.
(Lower Assendon,
credit John Oldridge)
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Older villages and hamlets tend to blend into the
countryside because of irregular orientation and a
less regimented street pattern. (Bradenham)
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
to avoid 'bolting' on new estates, often in the form
of culs de sac, which are usually perceived as a
separate and detached part of the village. It is
difficult for this type of development to contribute
much to local character or to the sense of place,
since its form and layout rarely reflects the
character of building in the rest of the village. The
Department for Transport published the Manual for
Streets in 2007 which contains useful advice about
the need for both internal and external
connectivity when considering street patterns.
Multiple plots
Sensitive siting of a
new building is
needed to avoid
disrupting the
relationship to
the street. (Ewelme)
Repeated designs
do not allow the
development to blend
into a village where
irregular patterns are
more common.
(Chalfont St. Giles)
Street pattern
3.17 A fundamental guiding principle, not always
easy to follow in practice, is that new
development should be integrated with the village
and its existing street pattern. This means trying
3.18 Large-scale building of new estates will be
rare in the Chilterns AONB. More common will be
the development of sites which can accommodate
a small number of houses. Because of the general
shortage of housing land there is a tendency to try
and build as many dwellings as possible on the
site, whether they are so called suburban style
'executive homes’ or smaller more affordable
market, rented or social housing. The main priority
must be to ensure the buildings relate well to one
another, as well as to neighbouring plots within a
wider context.
3.19 There has been a recent trend to try to
incorporate houses with a range of superficial
design features within one
development, in order to market
them as individually designed. This
practice has usually resulted in a
disjointed and unattractive mixture
of houses, for example, some with
Tudor style half-timbering, others
with brick and flint and some with
herring-bone brick work.
Disguising houses of the same size and
type with a mixture of superficial
features can make the development
appear disjointed and usually fails to
achieve the desired effect for the
whole development. (Loosley Row)
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Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Appropriately designed variety in the types of houses
can have a pleasing visual effect whilst providing the
mixture of housing needed to maintain balanced
communities. (Great Missenden)
3.20 The use of a mixture of terraced, detached
and semi-detached houses with some linking
features, such as garden hedges or walls can
overcome the effect of
buildings floating in an
unrelated fashion. All
these buildings, although
of differing types, should
utilise complementary
designs and materials.
Sensitive selection of
surfacing for shared areas,
and variable garden sizes
and shapes can also help
to avoid an over rigid
geometric layout.
Space between buildings
The individual building
3.21 The space between buildings should be
positively designed as part of the overall
development, including space within individual
plots and any shared areas. It is important to plan
the layout and density so as to accommodate green
space provision and strengthen the network of
green spaces and links. The designer should aim to
make roads and parking areas within the overall
development subordinate to gardens, buildings and
shared space. This will help to create a people
friendly area, especially for children. This can be
achieved through the use of alternative road
surfacing, narrowing road width, or even avoiding
a distinction between the road and a pavement by
not using kerbs.
3.22 Despite a complex historical layering of many
different periods (as shown in the Chilterns HLC)
the primacy of brick and emerging use of flint from
the seventeenth century onwards produced what
many people consider to be the archetypal
Chilterns brick and flint cottage. This was
generally a simple construction of one and a half
storeys with low roof and dormers, constructed
from locally made red brick, flint and clay tiles,
sometimes with an oak timber frame. The buildings
were rarely more than one room deep and adopted
a 'T' or 'L' shape in order to minimise the span of
the roof. They are numerous and virtually all
settlements still retain buildings of this style. In
many ways it is these simple cottages which create
the character of villages in the Chilterns, into
which the new development must fit.
3.23 Factors which can affect the appearance of
the building
Shape, scale, bulk and proportions
Roof size and shape
Materials, colours and textures
Number, shape, size and pattern of windows
and doors
Even small gardens can
add greatly to the
attractiveness of a
building. (Ewelme)
Garages and parking areas
Landscaping, walls and hedges
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
These styles of cottage with consistent scale, form and
materials can be found throughout the Chilterns and
exhibit many design features which are now considered
to be traditional. (The Lee, Hambleden, Stonor)
Detailed design considerations
3.24 Great care and attention to detail is needed
to ensure buildings enhance, rather than spoil, the
landscape of the Chilterns AONB. Use of 'off the
shelf' designs and/or inappropriate standard
materials should be avoided. It is always advisable
to seek pre-application advice from your local
planning authority.
3.25 Checklist
Identify the main architectural features of
the traditional buildings in the immediate
area of the proposed new building, and
interpret these in the design
When building between existing properties,
respect the size, shape and siting of adjacent
Avoid excessive earth works – step buildings
down slopes instead
Take care over the treatment of doors and
windows which can dramatically alter the
appearance of a building
In multiple plots, use traditional design styles
and features to create a consistent design
theme, but avoid repeated designs and
geometric patterns
Consider mixing types of housing, (terrace,
semi, detached, linked) as this adds variety
in a development and the settlement, whilst
using consistent designs and materials
Use simple building layouts at right angles or
parallel to the road
Avoid deep floor plans, which create large
roof spans, often unacceptably shallow in
Try to identify those features which are characteristic
of traditional buildings in the village. (Turville,
credit Richard Bossons)
The scale and form of new
3.26 It is important to consider how the scale and
form of a proposed new building will affect its
visibility in the landscape, and its relationship to
nearby buildings. It is essential that the building is
designed to fit the site.
3.27 New houses should have a simple form and a
pitched roof with a central ridge. Extensions can be
added to buildings of this shape without creating a
complicated and messy structure. More detailed
advice on the way in which existing buildings can
be sympathetically extended can be obtained from
your local planning authority.
3.28 Buildings with a large deep plan often sit
awkwardly on a sloping site and usually require
substantial ground works. Rather than adopting this
approach, the design and layout of the building
should be changed to fit more comfortably on to
the site, by 'stepping' down the hill. A house with a
deep plan, exceeding 7 metres, is likely to appear
as a large 'boxy' building. It is likely to have an
expansive shallow pitched roof, less than the 40
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
degree norm. This is one of the reasons why
bungalows can appear to be an inappropriate
building design. It will almost invariably be out of
scale with the countryside and neighbouring
buildings. An 'L' shaped or rectangular building is
likely to be less bulky than one with a large,
square floor plan.
3.29 The overriding rule is to adjust the bulk,
layout and orientation of the building to fit the site
without major ground works, ensuring a relatively
low roof height. This can help to achieve more
interesting designs and layouts, possibly using splitlevels. Care should be taken to avoid the spread of
the ground floor footprint beyond the roofline.
3.30 Until the nineteenth century terraces were
relatively uncommon. They were usually short, of
about five dwellings or less and constructed of
brick, sometimes in combination with flint.
Terraces are usually balanced in appearance and
this should be maintained when additions are being
considered. The construction of unusual end of
terrace structures, dormers and porches should be
avoided particularly where they do not exist
already. New terraces should also be short, and
every effort should be made to restrict the height
of the building and the bulk of the roof. If the
terrace is on a slope, the individual houses should
be stepped. This is a useful way of allowing
buildings to follow the contours, however, it is not
recommended in other instances where sites are
level as the stepping leads to a contrived
The 'one-off' design
3.31 This guide is intended to help conserve and
enhance the Chilterns landscape by promoting
locally distinctive building traditions. However, this
does not mean that there is no place for
contemporary and innovative architecture or more
interesting designs which demonstrate adherence
to the basic principle of being in harmony with
their site and the surrounding buildings and
countryside. By their very nature such designs are
likely to come forward rarely, though should still
be of the highest standard. They should therefore
only be built in exceptional circumstances where it
can be shown that, whether in the open
countryside or a settlement, they enhance the
landscape and immediate setting rather than
detract from local character. They should also
demonstrate the highest principles of sustainability
in terms of design, use of materials and renewable
energy provision for example and should have the
ability to be repaired and renewed when
The Board supports the Government's policy which
stresses that isolated new dwellings in the
countryside will require special justification for
planning permission to be granted. The exceptional
Terraces were commonly constructed from the mid
nineteenth century onwards. (Aldbury)
quality or innovative nature of
the design may provide the
special justification. The
design should be truly
outstanding and groundbreaking, for example in its
use of materials, methods of
construction or contribution to
protecting and enhancing the
environment (PPS7).
3.32 Therefore, for such buildings to fit into the
Chilterns AONB they should be sympathetic to their
surroundings and the defining characteristics of the
local area and will need to demonstrate the
appropriate use of local building materials
wherever possible. With current uncertainty about
the likely impacts of climate change it would be
sensible to incorporate
renewable energy provision
(particularly solar hot water,
solar photovoltaics [PV],
ground source heat pumps and
wood fuel boilers for both
heat and power), increased
levels of insulation and
innovative design features to
reduce the impacts of summer
heating (building orientation,
tree planting and installation
of reflective glazing) and
potential storm events
(permeable surfacing, larger
gutters and drainpipes and
water collection and recycling
facilities). These principles
should apply to all new
One off designs
should be sensitive
to the local area
and enhance the
landscape and
immediate setting.
(Marlow above,
Berkhamsted and
Goring below)
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
(see the Chilterns Roofing Materials
Supplementary Technical Note for more
detailed advice)
3.33 Checklist
Use a pitched roof with central ridge
Avoid flat roofs
Avoid roofs with unequal pitches
Full gabled roofs with plain uncoloured
mortared verges and third round ridges are
preferred. Hipped and half-hipped roofs are
less common
Roof pitch should be at least 40 degrees for
clay tiles and most slate roofs
Restrict the use of rooflights, however if
used they should be recessed and split into
small panes (to help avoid light reflection),
kept low on the roof and placed on the rear
elevation of buildings
Roof mounted solar renewable energy
installations (hot water and PV) should be
kept low on the roof and prominent
elevations of buildings should be avoided
The roof of this relatively large cottage is kept in
proportion by the use of a double roof with central
valley gutter. (Coleshill)
Dormer windows should be kept low on the
roof. They should be small and designed to
let in light rather than to create additional
space in an attic room
Use black painted cast metal and not uPVC
for external guttering and pipework
Thatched roofs should only be used where
locally common
Shape, size and materials
Thatched roof pitches should be up to 55
3.34 The shape of roofs is often overlooked as an
important aspect of building design. Their shape,
size, pitch and colour can all have a significant
A traditional brick and flint cottage with small dormer
windows and plain clay tiled roof. (Watlington)
3.35 Traditionally, houses were rarely more than
two storeys in height. The upper storey often used
part of the attic with small dormer windows, which
helped to restrict the height of the ridge and keep
the bulk of the building low.
Thatch should have a pitch of up to 50–55 degrees.
Unequal main pitches should be avoided. The use
of flat, nearly flat, or very steep roofs are at
variance with all other forms of vernacular
architecture in the Chilterns.
3.36 A pitched roof with plain clay tiles, or
sometimes slate, is traditional to the area, as are
gable-ended, and to a much lesser extent, halfhipped roofs. Tiled roofs should have pitches of at
least 40 degrees, whilst slate can be as low as 30
degrees, although this can appear rather flat.
3.37 With larger, deep two-storey buildings there
is a tendency to create a bulky roof with a high
ridge that is out of scale. There are many examples
of how older traditional buildings have overcome
this problem by using a double roof with parallel
ridges and a central valley gutter to reduce the
bulk of the building.
Consider using a double roof with valley
gutters and parallel ridges for larger roofs to
minimise their bulk
Use plain red clay tiles whenever possible or
slates as an alternative
Clay tiles and slates should have a slight
texture to help weathering
Concrete tiles and pantiles should not be
Avoid using bargeboards and deep
projecting boxed eaves on 'traditional
cottage' designs
Do not use bargeboards with highly
ornamental 'alpine styling'
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
3.38 A residential development where all the roofs
are identical and appear to be arranged in a
geometric pattern will be conspicuous and out of
place, especially where they do not have
chimneys. The designer should aim to break up
potentially dull roofscapes by using the correct
clay tiles (hand-made with double cambers) and
the inclusion of chimneys in the design. If some
variation is required then slate could be introduced
for small and subservient extensions. A mixture of
gabled ended, half-hipped and hipped roof styles
should be avoided. Gabled ended roofs were the
most common building style, and half-hipped
structures relatively scarce. A simple break in the
roofline can create the desired effect.
3.39 The materials and colour of a roof are key
elements of any individual building and
streetscape, and are especially important when
elevated views of the building or village are
possible, such as from the scarp ridge. Consistent
colouring and use of materials helps to soften the
view of the village and ensure new development
matches older buildings.
Slate has been commonly used since the
mid-nineteenth century. The roof pitch is often more
shallow than for clay tiled roofs. (Great Kingshill)
slightly rough texture necessary to allow them to
weather. Other colours rarely fit in with their
3.42 Concrete tiles and clay pantiles
should not be used.
The buildings fit together because the roof pitches
and use of plain red clay tiles is consistent.
(Little Missenden)
3.40 The traditional plain red clay tile continues
to be used widely. During the mid-nineteenth
century slate was introduced as a roofing material
and used extensively in villages which expanded
rapidly from that time. A common feature is the
use of clay ridge tiles on a slate roof.
3.41 The characteristic plain red clay tiles should
be used whenever possible, although slate roofs
are common and familiar. The texture of roofing
materials is also a consideration. Natural roofing
materials such as clay tiles and natural slate are
slightly textured and weather readily. Smooth and
shiny roofing materials, including some clay tiles,
artificial and some imported slates, lack the
Thatch can be found across the Chilterns but it is no
longer as common as it once was. (Ipsden)
3.43 Thatch is still found in many parts of
the Chilterns, but is no longer common. It
is exceptional for thatch to be used on a
modern building, and particular care is
needed to avoid the building becoming an
oddity, out of keeping with most of the
buildings in the area.
3.44 During the nineteenth century boxed
eaves and bargeboards were introduced
as a design feature, and are now widely
used. They are appropriate for Victorian
buildings but can spoil other older
buildings if added, and should be avoided if a new
building is being designed to reflect a traditional
cottage design. Bargeboards were generally not
used on brick and flint cottages which had
mortared verges. Those which exhibit ornate
styling can be intrusive and incongruous, and
should be avoided.
Bargeboards on new
cottages can appear as an
unnecessary design detail.
(Great Kingshill)
Boxed eaves and
bargeboards have been
used since the1850s.
They can add to the
character of a new
building if used with
great care. Too often
they do not. (Chenies)
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
appearance of the roof. Investigate other means of
introducing attic light, for example by means of
gable end windows where appropriate.
Dormer windows
The careful use of
dormer windows can add
significantly to the
appearance of a building.
(Greenfield, Watlington)
3.45 Traditional cottages sometimes had dormers
to make use of the roof space. They were usually
gabled, small, restricted in number and sited low
down on the roof, occasionally breaking the eaves
line (less common nowadays). Cheeks and gables
tended to be plain rendered, occasionally lead was
used for the former, brick and flint for the latter.
Tile-hanging or wood or wood-effect cladding are
not traditional. If dormers are used at all, they
should respect these simple rules. The roof
materials and pitch should match that of the main
roof. Window-frames should usually match, but be
smaller than those used on the main elevation,
although where sashes are being employed, attic
casements would be just as appropriate. Cat-slide
or flat lead covered dormers may be a useful
addition for the architect trying to get more space
in the roof, but where a traditional cottage look
may not be appropriate. However, close attention
should still be paid to the local context.
Other forms of dormer window can add to the appeal
of a roof, in these cases cat-slide and double-pitched
dormers have been used. (Bockmer End)
Rooflights, solar panels and smallscale wind turbines
3.46 Rooflights and solar panels need to be
carefully used and positioned to avoid disrupting
the appearance of a building. They can be
accommodated on relatively modern buildings but
care is needed to limit the number, and ensure
they are well positioned on the roof – for example,
by making sure they are not too high.
Consideration should be given to the siting of solar
panels away from the building, if space allows and
the installation can be sufficiently well screened.
3.47 They should be located away from the front
or prominent elevation of the building. On older
properties new rooflights and solar panels may be
difficult to incorporate without spoiling the
Solar panels on the front elevation of a
building can spoil the overall appearance
of a roof. (Great Missenden)
3.48 At present small-scale domestic wind turbines
will often need planning permission and early
contact should be made with the local planning
authority. Such turbines (usually about 1kW
capacity) will normally need to be attached to a
gable wall and project above the roof in order to
produce any electricity. However, with the
turbulence caused by the house it is attached to
and other buildings, trees and obstacles locally the
power produced is likely to be limited. Despite
being small-scale, roof-mounted turbines are likely
to disrupt the appearance of a building unless they
are very carefully positioned.
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
(see the Chilterns Flint and Chilterns
Brick Supplementary Technical Notes for
more detailed advice)
3.49 Checklist
Wherever possible chimneys should be
incorporated into designs
3.53 Checklist
If the house doesn't have an open fireplace,
consider incorporating the central heating
flue or soil stack/vent pipe in a chimney
Traditionally chimneys often had detailing as
a monument to the bricklayers skill. This is
especially prominent in traditional estate
Use red/orange brick where this is prevalent
Do not use other colours of brick unless
there is a distinct local tradition
Avoid using bricks with 'sharp' edges
New houses without a chimney look strangely bare,
drawing attention to the bulk and uniformity of the
roof. (Walters Ash)
Do not use fake or moulded ridge stacks
3.50 Until comparatively recently chimneys were a
standard feature of all houses in rural areas, most
of which had more than one chimney. They are
attractive features in their own right and add
interest to almost any type of building. They were
often prominent and flamboyant features of the
cottages belonging to traditional estates.
3.51 Many people would argue that a fireplace is a
traditional part of any house in the countryside,
and a valued part of rural living is having an open
fire or stove. In recent years houses have been
designed without an open fireplace, and thus the
house has not had a chimney. This has a
surprisingly dramatic effect on the appearance of
the building. As such, designers should consider
incorporating an open fireplace in new houses.
3.52 If a real fireplace and working chimney is not
a feature of the house, consideration should be
given to housing the central heating flue or a soil
stack/vent pipe in a chimney rather than simply
exposing a short length of piping. A blank
unadorned roof will always look out of place in the
countryside and without a chimney can appear to
be bulky and over bearing.
Chimneys are often prominent features, not just of
the roof but of the gable wall, with large external
chimney breasts. (Medmenham)
Use bricks with texture to help weathering
Use an appropriate brick bond whilst
avoiding the use of stretcher bond
Flint should be fractured or knapped with
the dressed face exposed
Use appropriate lime mortars
Only use colour banding where it is locally
dominant and use variations of red brick –
avoid other colours
Consider using glazed 'headers' to provide
Consider using different materials for front
and side elevations (e.g. brick to front and
brick and flint to sides)
Do not use pre-cast flint blocks or token flint
Hanging wall tiles, colour washing and
weather-boarding should be avoided, unless
characteristic of the locality
Consider using weather-boarding stained
black for garages and other out-buildings –
use wide boards
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Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
The use of flint is the
most commonly
adopted technique of
creating the appearance
of a 'Chilterns cottage'.
The flint should usually
be fractured or
knapped with the
dressed surface being
visible and the flint
should be laid in lime
mortar. (Medmenham)
The use of glazed
headers to create
a decorative pattern
was relatively
common. (Watlington)
association with the same locally produced,
'mellow' red brick. It was nearly always fractured
or knapped (dressed) and used in smaller sizes.
Large pieces were rarely used and almost never in
the round except for ornamental purposes.
3.54 For centuries, locally produced 'red' bricks
were the basic building blocks used in the
Chilterns. Flint has also been a basic building
material for centuries but it was only towards the
end of the eighteenth and into the nineteenth
centuries, that it was much more commonly used,
often for domestic construction and usually in
3.55 Until bricks were imported to the area,
locally produced bricks were used which were
nearly all red, ranging from those with orange
tinges to nearly purple. Generally they were
handmade and a mellow red in colour, with
rounded edges, rather than the sharp and hard
edge of modern machine made bricks. It was
common to use bricks of slightly different colours
to provide ornamental detail. Such combinations
were subtle, and not based on dramatically
contrasting colours. Glazed headers were often
used to create decorative patterns.
3.56 Inevitably in a woodland area, timber has
been extensively used for construction. Timber
framing, using hardwood species, especially oak, is
no longer practiced widely, nor is weatherboarding, which was the normal construction
technique for barns and other 'industrial' buildings.
Nevertheless the use of sustainably sourced timber
for construction and finishes is encouraged.
3.57 Since the beginning of the twentieth century
the range of building materials in common use
expanded enormously. There is no longer a reliance
on locally produced materials. Highly coloured
bricks and concrete tiles, which owe little to local
tradition, have sometimes displaced the familiar
red bricks, clay tiles and flint.
Inappropriate use of standard designs
and materials do not add to the
character of settlements. (Hyde Heath)
3.58 The traditional materials of local brick, plain
red clay tiles and flint are very durable and give a
familiar character to a building. In contrast, many
modern materials lack an appropriate colour and
texture, thus retaining their 'newness', and fail to
weather with age and exposure to the elements.
3.59 Red brick should be used. Other colours such
as yellow, grey, brown or salmon pink have never
been used widely and should not be used, unless
they are a notable local feature. Hand-made bricks
are still available and made in the Chilterns, and
locally produced modern machine made bricks,
which replicate the appearance of hand made
bricks, are widely available. It is important to
achieve a better quality finish with appropriate
3.60 The colour, thickness, profile and texture of
mortar joints and the bond chosen all affect the
final appearance of a wall. A strong cement based
mortar is inappropriate as its use will result in
shrinkage cracking around bricks and flints,
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
allowing water ingress and leading to damage to
both bricks and flints as well as any mortar core.
Traditional lime mortars are made with sand and
lime and their use helps to improve the bond with
clay bricks and flints. The subtle texture of lime
mortar enhances the visual qualities of any wall it
is used for. The elasticity and porosity of lime
mortar allows a wall to breathe, moisture to
evaporate and fine cracks to 'heal'. Its use is
ecologically friendly, and even allows a wall to be
demolished and reconstructed in the future
without any loss of material.
3.61 For repair work such as repointing, very
careful consideration needs to be given to whether
the work is necessary and intervention should be
the minimum necessary to retain flint and
brickwork in a safe and sound condition. If the
building is listed then consent may be required
before attempting any repairs (contact your local
authority Conservation Officer). Repointing is
generally only needed when the mortar has clearly
failed and is powdery, loose and crumbling or has
eroded away through weathering or decay. Avoid
using cement-rich mortars as they set too hard and
remain intact during any movement of the wall
thus tearing the flint and bricks which surround
them. Specialist contractors should be employed
and they should try and achieve as close a match
in texture and composition as possible (see the
Chilterns Flint and Chilterns Brick Supplementary
Technical Notes for more detailed advice).
3.62 Tile hanging, lime rendering, lime washing
and timber weather-boarding are occasionally
found, but were not used widely for houses.
Weather-boarding was more commonly used for
outbuildings and may be a useful design detail for
garages, for example. Traditionally the sawn
planks used for weather-boarding were wider than
the narrow boards sometimes used today.
Mixing materials and styles
3.63 Mixing 'images' of past architectural details in
an attempt to create a false sense of history and
to give an anonymous building instant character
such as: medieval leaded lights, mock Georgian
front doors, ornamental bargeboards and Tudor
half-timbering almost never achieves the desired
effect and should be avoided. The designer should
refer to a local Village Design Statement or
Conservation Area Appraisal, if one exists for the
village, which will help to identify local design
styles and details.
3.64 Only use materials which are traditional to
the Chilterns. Materials with colours and textures
alien to the Chilterns such as stone from other
areas, yellow brick, plastic, or brightly coloured
cement and concrete based products cannot help
to blend a new building with the countryside or
the traditional character of local villages.
Particular care is needed when using ornamental
detailing such as coloured brick banding and
unusual window shapes.
3.65 The modern practice of ad hoc use of several
different types of building material gives an
unbalanced and hybrid appearance to a building
and development. Recently, as the market
attempts to provide new and modern but
'traditional' cottages, builders have simply added
pre-cast concrete flint blocks or other token flint
panels to conventional modern designs, or used
bright red brick with hard edges and a smooth
finish. These, too, fail to create the desired effect
and should be avoided. Ill-considered pointing also
mars the appearance of brick and flint.
The appearance of
buildings can be
significantly affected
by great variations in
design features,
materials and scale.
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Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Windows and doors
3.66 Checklist
A wide variety of designs is available, but careful
selection is required to ensure that windows enhance
the appearance and complement the character of the
building and neighbouring properties. This is especially
important in terraces where the use of different
window designs can disrupt their appearance.
(Harpsden, Watlington and Chalfont St. Giles)
Elevations should have a greater proportion
of solid wall to window
Windows should be slightly taller than wide
with small panes of glass
Glazing bars should be thin
Windows should be recessed with the outer
or sub-frame and sill painted black or
another dark colour where appropriate
Large windows and patio doors should be
confined to the rear or screened parts of the
house and should be divided by glazing bars
White paint is the most appropriate finish
for timber windows: staining is not a
traditional finish and should not be used
except in the case of weather-boarded
elevations, where frames should be stained
or painted black
Wooden frames should be used in
preference to PVC or aluminium which spoil
the appearance of older houses, especially
in terraces where all properties have
identical windows, are unsustainable and
lack local distinctiveness
PVC doors should be avoided
Front doors should be wood, designed to fit
in with the local context and with little or
no glazing. Fan lights should not be
incorporated into the door itself
Neo-Georgian style front doors should be
Unusual shaped window openings and use of PVC
frames rarely complement traditional buildings and
should be avoided. (Great Missenden)
Traditional leaded light windows are occasionally
encountered often in conjunction with iron casements.
Stick on lead strips do not achieve the same effect.
3.67 The elevational appearance of a building is
strongly influenced by the positioning, size and
detailed design of the windows. The traditional
proportional dominance of solid wall over window
opening should be borne in mind, and the
subdivision of glazing given careful thought.
Traditional window frames are, contrary to
common belief, still available and are economic to
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
3.68 Traditionally, windows were slightly taller
than they were wide. If a wider opening was
required, the glazing was divided into separate
casements or sashes to give the same vertical
emphasis. The key is the subdivision of the window
in a symmetrical way, with regular arrangement of
areas of glass and thin glazing bars. Although there
has been a tendency to use larger panes of glass
than before, a well balanced design can still be
appearance and provides adequate protection from
the elements.
3.69 Recessing the windows into their opening (by
approx 5–15 cms), painting the outer or sub-frame
and sill black or another appropriate dark colour
(as was done traditionally) and painting the
woodwork white usually gives an attractive
3.71 The windows used in an extension should
match and be in proportion to those of the main
building. A mixture of window sizes, styles, colours
and materials disrupts the appearance of the
building and should be avoided. Similar principles
apply to windows in conversions and the use of
coloured staining (often a honey colour) should be
avoided in all instances.
3.70 Large windows in the form of patio doors and
picture windows look out of place in older
buildings and the traditional balance of wall to
window is lost. Patio doors and larger window
openings should be designed to avoid using large
panes of glass and generally confined to the rear
or screened parts of the building.
3.72 Aluminium and PVC doors and windows are
not suitable as replacements in older buildings,
and can spoil the intrinsic qualities of the building.
For listed buildings and in conservation areas there
is likely to be strict control on the appearance of
new and replacement windows. The local planning
authority should be contacted for further advice.
3.73 An important issue to consider when installing
or replacing windows is energy conservation. This
is one of the benefits sometimes put forward for
PVC, but equally effective wooden alternatives are
available, which are both more aesthetically
pleasing and environmentally sustainable. It can
also be more cost-effective to repair wooden
frames than to replace them with PVC.
Simple front door design. (Great Missenden)
Front doors on adjacent properties that are in keeping
with their locality. (Little Missenden)
3.74 There are no 'traditional'
front door styles in the
Chilterns. In general, those
using simple, rural designs
work well, particularly when
taking account of the local
context, and are generally
constructed of timber, with
little or no glazing and few
ornaments. Georgian style
front doors often look out of
place, and those with large
glass panels are unlikely to
enhance the appearance of
the building.
Simple rural front door design.
credit Richard Bossons)
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
3.75 Checklist
For new buildings consider adding a porch or
canopy as it can create interest, especially
on a flat fronted detached building, though it
should not be added to a traditional building
or a terrace of houses simply for
The design of the porch should mirror the
main building
The porch must be in proportion to the
The materials and roof pitch should match
the existing building
3.76 All types of porch and canopy are to be found
in the Chilterns, ranging from those which serve a
useful purpose (keeping out the weather for
example) to those which are for little more than
ornamentation. In many older properties, porches
and canopies form an integral part of the overall
design. Generally, they are very simple and mirror
the main building. In some instances they are
elegantly detailed and can add considerable
interest to the building. This is particularly true of
some Victorian and Edwardian buildings.
3.78 If an older building or terrace of houses has
never had a porch or canopy and it is proposed to
add one solely for decorative purposes, then
consideration should be given to abandoning the
proposal. If the porch or canopy is for functional
purposes, constructing it in the same materials as
the main house, and, if it is a porch, fitting it with
either the original door or one similar will help it to
blend in. The roof pitch should be as close to that
of the main roof as possible.
3.77 It is important that the porch or canopy
matches the main building, whether it is a new
house or an extension to an older property. It
should be constructed using the same materials as
the main building.
The porch should closely match the characteristics of
the main building in terms of proportions, design and
use of materials. Although it works above (Nettleden),
it is only partially successful below (Watlington),
where greater thought given to the bulk, design and
materials could have produced a better result.
Poorly designed
porches can mar
the appearance
of the building
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Access, parking and garages
3.79 Checklist
Parking areas/driveways should be located at
the side of buildings
Drives down the side of the building, with
the garage located to the side or rear of the
dwelling, help to reduce the prominence of
the garage and parked cars
Avoid creating parking areas which dominate
the front of the building, in full view of the
A drive-through archway incorporated as part
of the dwelling with garage to the rear can
be effective
Front gardens should not be turned into
parking areas
Consider alternatives to standard garages
such as 'cart shed' designs
Integral garages should be avoided
Avoid building large double garages
with pyramid shaped roofs, dormers or
Avoid large garage courts, especially if they
are isolated from the main building
Do not set garages forward of the main
Screen parking areas
Keep visibility splays to a minimum
3.80 Car ownership in the Chilterns is amongst the
highest in the country, and is still growing. It is not
uncommon for households to have two or even
three cars. Some have more. They are not only a
source of pollution when used but can spoil the
immediate setting of the house and street.
3.81 To help reduce the visual pollution caused by
cars and reflected light, it is important to reduce
the prominence of vehicular access and parking
areas which can become visually dominant in
developments of multiple dwellings. Space which
is designed solely for parking large numbers of cars
is inefficient and often unattractive. It is often
more effective to provide parking spaces through a
combination of on-plot, off-plot, and on street
where appropriate. If larger shared parking areas
are necessary, they should contain no more than 10
spaces, should be sited so as to minimise their
visibility both from outside and within the
development and should be designed as a space
which is capable of fulfilling a variety of needs,
one of which is parking, and incorporate soft
landscape planting and other features to break-up
the space.
3.82 New development must be designed to
respond to the character of the surrounding area,
which may indicate the need for front boundary
treatments and soft landscape planting. It may
also give rise to the need for new open or play
space. Care should be taken so that the need to
provide access and parking is not given priority
over such other requirements of the development.
Hard and soft landscape materials should
complement those traditionally found in the area
and the introduction of kerbs and hard surfacing
should be avoided unless there is a tradition of
using such materials in the area.
3.83 A recent, and often unfortunate, trend has
been to allow the front of the house, and thus the
street, to become dominated by large garages,
driveways and parking areas. In this way attractive
houses are spoilt, often by the removal of a
traditional front boundary wall and streets become
dominated by the car, rather than buildings,
boundaries and gardens.
3.84 A very large number of houses have garages
which are never used for cars, instead becoming
storage areas. As cars have become less prone to
rust, many people prefer to leave their cars in the
driveway rather than keeping them in the garage.
This shows that adequate
on-site parking provision
has not been achieved.
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
3.85 Garage accommodation should be designed to
allow a car to be properly parked and has to be
safe and convenient, otherwise it will not be used.
However, this does not mean that it has to
dominate the scene. If vehicle access and parking
is considered from the outset, it can become an
integral part of site planning and the design of new
buildings or conversions.
Inventive design and
imagination is needed
to ensure the correct
balance is achieved
to prevent the car and
parking areas becoming
intrusive. (Wigginton)
3.86 Driveways are usually less dominant if they
are sited to the side of the main frontage of a
building and if they do not run directly into a
garage or parking area. As a norm they need be no
wider than three metres.
3.87 Rather than automatically proposing a double
garage with each new house, consider whether
there are more appropriate alternatives. Covered
Garages themselves can be functional and attractive. (Goring Heath, credit Paul Sargeantson)
car ports with the appearance of a cart shed or
small barn may be more attractive in some
circumstances and remain practical. The garage,
stores and other outbuildings can be
grouped around an open courtyard,
reminiscent in scale and character to a
small farmyard or workshop. Parked cars
can be further screened and protected by
hedges, trellis or pergolas.
3.88 Standard highways guidance can
result in large visibility splays and turning
heads which are out of keeping with
older parts of the village and tend to
result in the road dominating the scene.
It is possible to use reduced
specifications without compromising
safety and to design the space to relate
to the surrounding buildings and
environment rather than specifically
vehicle movement. The designer should
discuss this in detail with the local planning and
highway authorities. This will be especially
relevant for developments away from busy
highways. Specific reference should be made to the
Environmental Guidelines for the Management of
Highways in the Chilterns and The Manual for
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Landscape setting
3.89 Checklist
Hedges and walls are preferable to fencing
and in many cases hedges are preferable to
Woven 'larchlap' panel and close board
fences should not be used
Do not use concrete blockwork
Entrance gates should be simple and visibly
permeable and ornamental railings should be
Avoid 'gardening' the road verge
Don't treat the spaces between buildings as
simply 'leftover' – design them into the whole
Locally common, locally sourced native
species are preferred for landscaping,
especially within and adjoining open
countryside. Avoid fast growing exotic
species, especially cypress and laurel
3.90 Brick walls, possibly incorporating flint and
half round cappings, fences and hedges are the
traditional forms of property boundary in the
Chilterns. Older properties are often enclosed by a
wall using similar materials to the house itself. In
some villages, especially estate villages, walls,
railings, fences and hedges can be specific to the
location creating a distinct sense of place.
3.91 Walls can be used to 'tie buildings together'
creating visually attractive linkages, as well as
delineating boundaries, screening and enclosing
one area from another. As with walls for buildings,
the details of brick colour and texture, of pointing
and the use of flint, needs to be carefully chosen
to be in keeping with the traditions of the area.
Retaining walls need particular care. Concrete
blockwork for boundary walls, and paving flags laid
to retain banks are not appropriate in the
Boundary hedges
complement the
buildings and
contribute to the
rural character of
the lane. (Lee Common)
The garden wall
matches the house.
(Little Missenden)
Don't use too many different surface
materials and avoid the use of highly
coloured concrete paviors
Limit the area of asphalt
Elaborate entrances
are usually more
suburban than
rural in character
and should be avoided.
Ensure any surfacing materials are porous
Don't use concrete kerbs, fake cobbles and
patterned concrete which are suburbanising
Consider bound gravel finishes in place of
asphalt areas
This wall is an attractive feature in its own right.
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Native hedges and timber post
and rail to rural boundaries
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Garages and sheds
forming small courtyard
Good practice
Boundary treatment and surface
3.92 Waist-high timber fences such as picket
fences or post and rail fences where adjacent to
farmland, are in keeping with most village or
rural surroundings, can be supplemented by a
hedge using locally common native species and
are the form of enclosure preferred by the
Board. Simple metal bar railings were
characteristic of large houses and estates, but
ornamental railings are urban and out of place
in rural areas. The strong geometric shapes of
close board fencing, larchlap or other solid
fences, are too dominating and are
cumbersome on slopes. They are also prone to
wind damage and rot and require regular
maintenance to avoid looking tatty and are
therefore not appropriate.
Simple and permeable
gates can still be
obtained and should
be used where possible.
(Harpsden above and
Britwell Salome,
credit Richard Bossons
and Paul Sargeantson)
3.93 Entrance, and any other, gates should be
simple and visually permeable, either matching
the boundary fencing or typical farm gates in
the area, and timber should be used as it is
more attractive than tubular steel. Ornate, high
and solid gates and entrances incorporating
security systems are out of place in the
3.94 It is not traditional for gardens to be open to
the road unless they are very narrow. In
some villages and usually in the open
countryside, grass verges are common.
It is inappropriate for these to be taken
over by adjacent properties and
'gardened' with manicured flower beds
and close-mown grass, as this introduces
an inharmonious suburban character.
Existing mature
trees retained
with shrubs
Drive and entrance
no wider than necessary
with simple timber gates
Frontage similar to rest of street
Beech hedge
Bound gravel or similar
for driveway. No kerbs
Poor practice
Blockwork wall and conifer
hedge along rural boundary
Detatched double garage
with narrow awkward
spaces to either side
Conifers rapidly
becoming too large
Large expanse
of asphalt
High brick wall
Large concrete kerbs
Ornate gates
Wide drive/entrance
Mature tree removed
‘Gardened’ verge
Lack of continuity for
front boundary treatment
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
New hedges, trees and other
3.95 If the location of a building is right and the
site planning has been sensitively carried out there
should be no need for new planting to screen a
building from view. Screening alone should in any
event be avoided since it usually suggests that
other more basic considerations have been
neglected. However, in some instances it is
appropriate to plant trees or shrubs.
3.96 Tree and shrub planting may be required to
provide shelter for a new building, or to link a new
building visually with existing woodland for
example. Planting should leave sufficient space
around a building to allow trees scope to mature,
to avoid inconvenience caused by tree roots or
overhanging branches, and to prevent an obstacle
to expansion should the need arise.
3.97 Existing native trees and shrubs should always
be retained to assist the integration of a new
building into its surroundings.
3.98 The use of locally thriving, native species is
usually the most successful way to ensure that a
new hedge or group of trees fits in. Species
commonly found in hedgerows throughout the
Chilterns include hawthorn, hazel, blackthorn,
beech, yew and hornbeam, with lesser numbers of
many other native shrubs such as holly, dog rose,
spindle, wild privet and elderberry, and trees such
as beech, ash, oak and wild cherry. Further advice
on appropriate species can be obtained from the
Conservation Board and local authority staff.
3.99 If a neat hedge that remains dense throughout
the year is required, a single-species planting of
beech, hornbeam, holly or yew is suitable. Often
exotic species such as cypresses and other conifers
are planted in order to obtain a quick screen
without consideration of the fact that they will
continue to grow quickly after they have achieved
the desired height, causing maintenance, root
penetration and shading problems as well as
looking out of place.
3.100 The planting of good hedges and trees from
the outset of a development will provide a
framework for gardens and open spaces in the
future. They should be considered as an important
way of integrating a development into its
surroundings and providing Green Infrastructure,
(see bibliography for further information) whether
it be in a village or in the open landscape. With
good design these features can benefit wildlife, be
attractive and provide a sense of security for the
owners without creating a sense of hostility to
others. Further information on this matter is
detailed in Natural Security, a leaflet which can be
obtained from Hertfordshire County Council.
3.101 The positions for tree planting should be
carefully considered. These may be to give shelter,
to screen or break up unsightly views, to give
height and visually soften rooflines or add points of
interest within a street. The choice of species
needs to be appropriate so that trees that will
Cypress hedges look out of place and can quickly get
out of control. There are more appropriate native
eventually grow very large are not planted too
close to buildings or where they will obscure views,
and trees that will remain small will not be
dwarfed by buildings. Trees can be long-lived and
expensive to maintain to maturity and maintenance
is therefore vital. It is advisable to seek specialist
advice about planting and maintenance, and
essential in the case of surveys or work to existing
or mature trees. Contact your local authority for
more advice.
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Paving and other hard surfaces
3.102 This is an aspect of development which is
often given inadequate attention, resulting in
widespread use of asphalt, concrete and even
brightly coloured concrete block paviors more
often associated with supermarket car parks.
Whatever is ultimately proposed it should be
limited in extent and porous to allow storm water
and run off to filter through to the ground below.
Greater use should therefore be made of natural
finishes including grass.
3.103 It is possible to minimise the area needed
for hard surfacing and thus create a more people
friendly area, by removing the standard division
between highway and pedestrian pavement, if
safety considerations allow. This is most likely to
be appropriate in small developments away from
busy public highways.
Avoid large expanses of a single surfacing material,
this could have been broken up with alternative
materials and more planting. (Penn Street)
3.104 A large expanse of any one surfacing
material should be avoided in residential and
other small developments. If a sizeable area of
hard-standing is required it can be visually broken
up by, for instance, defining the access to
individual buildings in a different material from
the shared driveway, or by having a low step to
keep cars in their defined places. However, the
use of too many types of surfacing can easily look
overdone and unattractive.
3.105 The general absence of building stone in the
Chilterns has meant that alternative materials are
commonly used. The exception is the use of
Denner Hill Setts, produced from sandstone
boulders which are found near High Wycombe.
They were used extensively in the nineteenth
century, and small quantities can be still be
sourced for re-use. In some conservation areas,
where York stone or similar stone paving has been
used, this should be retained and extended
whenever possible. Likewise, where a village or
street has stone setts or kerbs, the same should be
used for new development. There may be other
specific materials traditional to a certain location,
and their continued use will reinforce the local
identity of the area.
3.106 Wide concrete kerbs with a high upstand
are a suburbanising element and unnecessarily
harsh in rural situations. Discrete road and path
edgings using bricks or other small unit paving, at
a similar level to the main surface should be used
where necessary.
More traditional surfacing materials have
much less impact and are usually more
permeable. (Little Missenden)
3.107 Concrete paviors, fake cobbles and
patterned concrete should be avoided as they are a
suburban detail. Natural clay or stone paviors are
3.108 Where asphalt is used, consideration should
be given to the use of a surface dressing such as
appropriately coloured aggregates, to define
estate roads and other areas of public highway.
There are also various products which use a clear
binder with natural aggregates to give a surface
that looks like gravel but is almost as hard-wearing
as asphalt. Gravel and bound gravels should be
considered where there is less heavy use, as these
are more attractive.
3.109 Detailed advice on roads can be obtained
from your local highway authority. The Chilterns
Conservation Board and the local Highway
Authorities have produced the Environmental
Guidelines for the Management of Highways in the
Chilterns. These Guidelines should be applied
whenever works are being considered within the
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Other small-scale permitted
3.110 Checklist
Ensure that any change takes account of its
context and is appropriate to the locality
Ensure that renewable energy installations
are sited out of the public's view
Avoid the use of insensitive lighting
Design small-scale extensions to fit with the
current building and preferably place them
at the rear
Avoid the use of 'off the shelf' designs for
garden buildings
Limit the amount of domestic paraphernalia
and always ensure that it is discreetly sited
3.111 Any new development in the AONB will have
an impact on the built environment, and this Guide
aims to provide advice on how to minimize that
impact by ensuring it is of the highest quality and
enhances local distinctiveness. Some development,
such as changes to windows, some renewable
energy installations, changes to boundary
treatment the inclusion of lighting, the building of
conservatories, small extensions and garden
structures and incorporation of domestic
paraphernalia, may not necessarily require
planning permission (always check with the local
planning authority). However, conditions relating
to these may have been applied in respect of
developments that have taken place, and similarly
new developments might well have relevant
This permitted
development has had
a detrimental impact
on the wider
landscape. (Fawley)
conditions attached. Where the building is listed,
or is within a Conservation Area, additional
restrictions may also apply. In some cases, Local
authorities will have applied Article 4 Directions to
control certain small-scale works and the
Conservation Board is supportive of such action
where it is considered that this is appropriate.
3.112 However, where a planning application is
not required and development can take place
without the formal approval of the local planning
authority, the Conservation Board is concerned
that such permitted development may have
damaging impacts on the AONB and fail to
conserve or enhance its natural beauty. For
example, the change of windows and boundary
treatments (fence, wall or hedge for example) in
one house in a short terrace can have a disastrous
impact on all the other adjoining houses. Owners
of such properties are encouraged to ensure that
any changes they wish to implement are in keeping
with their immediate neighbours and the locality.
Apart from the incremental damage such changes
can have, the Board is also concerned at the
impact that permitted development will have on
the edge of settlements and within the public
3.113 Where the installation of renewable energy
technologies is permitted development those
installing the equipment should ensure that
wherever possible it is placed at the rear of a
property and out of the public's view. This is
particularly important with regard to the
installation of domestic-scale wind turbines and
consideration should also be given to bats and
birds in the local area and their flight paths.
3.114 The tranquillity of the Chilterns AONB is
under threat from noise as well as light pollution.
This is exacerbated by the insensitive use of
external lights, particularly security lights, which
tend to spill light out from a property into the
countryside. Greater thought should be given to
the type of lighting installed, its intensity, the
direction that lighting installations face and the
length of time that the
lights are on. The Board
recommends that if external
lighting is installed it should
only light a specific area
such as a drive or parking
area of a building and not
the wider countryside.
Directional cowls should be
fitted to stop or limit light
spillage, lights should be
directed downwards not
upwards, lower wattage
bulbs should be used (this
reduces both pollution and
Care should be taken
with the installation
of renewable
technologies and
prominent elevations
should be avoided.
(Great Missenden)
Chapter 3: Designing new buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
energy demand) and lights should be fitted with
timers and passive infra-red detectors to ensure
that they are only on when needed. Further
information is available from the Institute of
Lighting Engineers.
3.115 Many extensions to dwellings and some new
buildings do not require planning permission.
Examples of these small additions are
conservatories and garden buildings such as sheds.
Some key principles for new buildings will still
apply. For example roofs and ridgelines should be
kept subservient, walls should be indented rather
than follow existing walls, windows should match
the main building and poorly designed elements of
the existing building (flat roofs for example) should
be removed where appropriate. When undertaking
such development owners should take account of
the design and materials of the building being
extended and appropriate examples locally and
should try and ensure that any extensions are
located to the rear of the property out of the
public's view. The addition of PVC conservatories is
not considered to be appropriate. Other small
garden buildings such as sheds should also be
located to the rear of the property and should
preferably be designed to fit with other buildings
in the locality rather than being 'off the shelf'.
3.116 The edges of some settlements are open to
the countryside and many forms of permitted
development have an impact on a wide area,
particularly if there are limited numbers of trees
and hedges. The re-use of buildings for residential
purposes often brings with it associated domestic
clutter including washing lines and children's play
equipment such as swings and climbing frames,
which affect the integrity of the original building.
Wherever possible such equipment should be
limited and preferably removed when not in use.
However, in many instances it is recognised that
this is not possible and greater consideration will
therefore need to be given to the siting of such
facilities to lessen their impact on the wider
countryside. Many items of domestic clutter will
be placed in rear gardens out of the public's view
and with appropriate planting they will be less
visible and this is welcomed. However, in some
instances open views from properties are
maintained, and in these cases such equipment
should be designed to fit in with the local context
and the use of natural materials such as wood is
particularly encouraged.
3.117 Greater consideration should also be given to
the siting of satellite dishes and aerials and gas and
other utility boxes and where possible these should
be placed on less prominent facades and could be
coloured or painted to match the part of the
building on which they are placed.
The consistent treatment and pleasant appearance of the boundary of this development could be lost if changed
under permitted development rights. (The Lee)
Chapter 4: Agricultural and other rural employment buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Agricultural and other rural employment buildings
4.1 Checklist
New agricultural and other rural
employment buildings should be well sited
and in sympathy with their surroundings
Maintain or find suitable alternative uses for
older agricultural buildings
Avoid sensitive locations and isolated,
ridgetop and prominent sites
Link buildings to the wider landscape
Consider more complex designs to improve
the appearance of new buildings
Use 'cut and fill' only where absolutely
Align buildings parallel to contours
Use subdivided roof and wall structures to
reduce mass
Integrate new buildings with existing
Use traditional building materials
Ensure that materials, designs and colours
enable new buildings to complement the
character and appearance of existing nearby
4.2 In recent decades there have been significant
changes in farming practices. Changes are
reflected in differing requirements for new farm
buildings. Generally, there is now a need for large
buildings which offer increased flexibility in use.
Many traditionally constructed buildings are unable
to meet new standards and it is recognised that
many farmers are faced with the need to erect
new stock buildings or storage facilities. Although
traditional buildings may not be appropriate for
modern agriculture they may be suited to
alternative uses and local employment generation
will be one key way of ensuring the retention of
such buildings.
4.3 When considering the design of new
agricultural and other rural employment buildings
it is not suggested that they directly imitate
earlier forms and styles. Rather, they should be
well sited and designed to be in sympathy with the
character and appearance of their surroundings.
4.4 Farmsteads in the Chilterns are often isolated
groups of buildings, sometimes dominated by a
multi-purpose barn. Farmhouse, barn and other
buildings were typically built at various times as
resources allowed and arranged to form a
sheltered yard. Livestock accommodation and
implement sheds were built around the central
space to create an enclosure, for security and
shelter from the weather. Farmsteads were located
adjacent to better land near sources of water.
Valley bottoms and the foot of the escarpment
were, as a consequence, favoured places to build.
Chapter 4
4.5 Chilterns' farm buildings have steep roofs, low
eaves and are generally modest in size.
Farmhouses and barns may be larger. Building
groups are often tightly packed. The overall
appearance is dominated by walls and roofs with
little evidence of windows and doors.
4.6 Some old buildings are still in use for
agriculture, although most of them are no longer
suitable. The maintenance of such buildings is
important whether in use for agriculture or for
some other purpose. Finding a suitable use, which
will successfully conserve the character of such
buildings, is often difficult. However, before
proposing a new building for employment uses
consideration should be given to the sensitive
A typical Chilterns
farmstead with a
tightly packed
group of buildings.
(Smalldean Lane,
Chapter 4: Agricultural and other rural employment buildings
New farm buildings – good practice
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
re-use of an existing building. Some former
agricultural or other rural buildings can be
converted to employment use without affecting
their architectural integrity.
Location, siting and scale
4.7 Within the AONB there are some sensitive
locations where the siting, design and appearance
of a new farm or employment building will be
critical if assimilation into the surrounding
landscape is to be achieved. Examples of such
locations are sites that are close to listed
buildings, ancient monuments or Conservation
Areas. Such sites are best avoided if at all
4.8 Isolated new buildings should also be avoided,
particularly for employment use as this will tend to
encourage an increasing number of journeys, often
by car. When unavoidable, an isolated new building
should be reduced in scale and bulk and preferably
be sited in a dip or depression in the landscape or
set against a hillside to reduce its visual impact.
Ridgetop sites or sites that are prominent from
public viewpoints should be avoided. Careful siting
in relation to existing mature trees will help settle
a building into the landscape. Good site planning
should ensure that not all new buildings need
additional planting to link them successfully with
the wider landscape. Linking is not the same as
screening. Furthermore, a poorly designed building
is not made acceptable by screening. The aim of
good design should be to integrate a building into
its surroundings, not to screen a building totally
from view.
Scale and form broken up
to reduce impact and add
Roof pitch reflects
older buildings
Retain mature trees
Scale, design and
materials reduce the
impact of new buildings
New planting to provide
backdrop and interest,
helps reduce scale of
new buildings
throughout are
dark or neutral,
and similar to
older buildings
Additional buildings
using traditional
designs and materials
Timber barn continues
to be dominant
Smaller buildings
placed near older
buildings and retain
courtyard space
Poor practice
Pale reflective roofs
at shallow pitch
Mature trees lost and
inappropriate screening
Buildings exposed
to longer distant views
Large doors
brightly coloured
Farmhouse dwarfed
by new buildings
Large, unrelieved
expanses of light
coloured cladding
Old barn
derelict, setting
being lost
Part of courtyard
built on and
balance of
space is lost
Large tubular
steel gates
traditional timber
Older buildings re-roofed,
change of roof pitch,
different materials,
inappropriate openings added
use of concrete
Large shed adjacent to
small scale historic
buildings is out of scale
Chapter 4: Agricultural and other rural employment buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
4.9 Modern farm buildings often consist of large
single-span structures with a steel frame and a
shallow pitched roof. In more open, prominent or
sensitive locations in the AONB such buildings can
have a damaging impact on the landscape. It may
therefore be necessary to design a building with a
more complex form.
4.10 New buildings should be sited to enable
adequate access and should be based on a circular
flow of traffic, though care should be taken to
avoid creating a wind tunnel.
4.11 Chilterns' farmsteads are commonly sited in
the bottoms of valleys. However, if used to best
advantage, sloping ground can help reduce the
apparent size and visual impact of large modern
buildings. Cutting and filling should always be
approached with caution. It should not be adopted
unless there are clearly identified advantages
which could not be matched by a different site.
Cutting and filling carries the risk that disruption
will be caused to the natural lie of the land. It
should only be considered when it is clear that this
would not happen.
4.12 If a building is aligned parallel to the
contours, limited cutting and filling may achieve
the required platform. If the span of a proposed
building is significant it will be worth considering a
multiple span, stepped structure, to reduce
excavation and filling. The stepped appearance
and shadow lines at the eaves will help to reduce
the apparent size and dominance of the roof.
4.13 Cutting and filling may also be employed
when building at right angles to a slope and may
be unavoidable on restricted sites. When long
buildings are aligned at right angles to the slope,
a stepped construction should be used which will
avoid an excessively high gable at one end and
will subdivide an otherwise continuous length of
4.14 Subdividing the walls and roof of a building
will help to reduce its apparent mass and thus its
dominance in the landscape. In a typical livestock
building this can be achieved using a suitably
coloured concrete block, brick or brick and flint
wall, with stained Yorkshire boarding (spaced
boards) above and a coloured profiled-sheet roof
covering. Other ways of reducing the apparent
mass include expressing structural elements on
the exterior, the addition of lean-to's, overhanging
eaves and dark-coloured roofs. For other kinds of
building, such as grain stores, the problem is more
difficult to resolve. In such cases other buildings
and landscape features will need to be taken into
4.15 Earthworks associated with new buildings,
for example mounds or 'cut and fill' slopes should
be carefully integrated into surrounding
landforms. They should also be managed. Grass
seeding or appropriate shrub and tree planting
should be carried out in order to link a proposal
with its surroundings.
Integration with existing
4.16 The relationship between a new building and
existing buildings is important. Livestock buildings
are best sited close to feed and straw storage
facilities. New or additional waste storage
facilities may also need to be considered.
4.17 Most new farm developments will be sited
near existing buildings which is usually desirable.
To help integration, it is preferable to align new
buildings with the dominant axis of existing
buildings. In most cases earlier buildings will have
been orientated to reflect existing topography and
are likely to suit the landscape setting in which
they are located. As well as reducing visual impact
by relating rooflines, there are practical benefits.
Groups of buildings arranged in parallel rather
than at right angles should assist with access and
the movement of machinery and livestock. Care
should be taken so that a new building will not
inhibit future expansion.
Here the new building
integrates well with
the existing buildings.
(Upper Assendon,
credit Richard Bossons)
Chapter 4: Agricultural and other rural employment buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
4.18 Where existing buildings are under-utilised or
redundant, consideration should be given to either
siting new buildings within the perimeter of
existing ones or re-using them for a suitable
alternative use. If existing walls can be kept, or
retained in a modified form, a similar appearance
to the original building may be achieved.
4.19 In many cases the farmhouse will be the
dominant building in a farm group. It is therefore
important that new buildings are well related to
the farmhouse, particularly if the farmhouse, or
any adjoining building, is listed. A new building
should not dominate the farmhouse or unduly alter
the character or appearance of its immediate
setting. If possible a new building should be sited
on the far side of the farmhouse, as seen from
public viewpoints.
4.20 It may not always be acceptable to site a new
building in or around an existing farmstead either
for visual or for practical reasons. Before
concluding that the only available choice is to build
remotely from the farmstead, consideration should
be given to the repair, modification and re-use of
an existing building. Grants may be available for
repair and restoration in suitable cases.
4.21 Careful consideration needs to be given to
any redevelopment of an existing employment site
and the development should result in no greater
impact on the AONB comparative to the existing
site. Clearly any new development should conserve
and enhance the natural beauty of the AONB.
It is important to ensure that any extensions are
designed to be in keeping with existing buildings, as
can be seen in the middle of this picture.
(Upper Assendon)
4.22 Although the use of traditional building
materials is preferable on visual and sustainability
grounds, it is recognised that functional
considerations may restrict their application in
connection with new agricultural buildings.
However, a wide range of modern materials is
available in various colours, profiles and textures
that may serve as satisfactory substitutes. Timber
and wood products may be stained in a wide range
of suitable colours to enhance the appearance of a
building in its setting. Given the choice of modern
materials and colours now available, the use of
grey fibre cement roof cladding or poor quality
concrete block for walls is not acceptable.
4.23 When deciding the type and colour of
materials to employ in a new building it will be
important to study older buildings nearby. The aim
should be to ensure that the new building
complements the character of nearby buildings and
integrates well into the landscape. The shape and
size of components and how they are applied, and
the colour and texture of materials, should reflect
those occurring locally, or be capable of serving as
an acceptable alternative. The Chilterns' mix of red
brick, clay tiles, grey slates, flint and black
weather-boarding will provide the appropriate
guide. The use of standard designs and non-local
building materials for new employment buildings is
not appropriate in the AONB. Careful consideration
will need to be given to the design and materials to
ensure that new employment buildings can be
assimilated into the surrounding landscape.
4.24 In particularly sensitive locations traditional
materials should be employed in ways that are
locally distinctive. For smaller buildings the use of
such materials and methods will be expected. For
larger buildings, the roof in particular will be
difficult to clad in traditional materials if it is to
comply with modern standards of design and
construction. Consideration should therefore be
given to breaking larger buildings up into smaller
components if this is achievable.
4.25 In other sensitive locations it may be
necessary to build some, or all, external masonry
walls in natural materials. In such cases an inner
wall can be constructed using concrete blocks. This
arrangement will provide a smooth internal finish
and a load-bearing wall if required.
Chapter 4: Agricultural and other rural employment buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Roof design
Other agricultural development
Silage clamps
4.26 The pitch of a roof should where practicable
be chosen to complement local examples,
although, as a general rule, a lower pitch will
reduce the visual impact of a large modern
building. For most modern farm buildings with a
sheet roof covering, the usual pitch is 15 degrees.
Roof design must allow for snow and wind loads
which periodically, even in the Chilterns, can be
4.27 The material chosen for the roof covering
should be textured to enable weathering to take
place. Consideration should be given to subdividing
the roof of large buildings in order to break up the
apparent mass and thus reduce the impacts on the
4.28 The choice of colour for the materials used in
a new building will be a matter of detailed
consideration. Asbestos cement sheet was the
choice of roof covering for many farm buildings
constructed in the recent past. This material
resulted in a roof that, immediately following
construction was conspicuous, but which gradually
darkened as moss and lichen growth occurred and
other weathering processes took place. These
changes gradually gave a more subdued and
natural appearance when viewed from a distance.
Fibre cement is the successor to asbestos cement.
Fibre cement sheets do not seem to change in the
same way. Therefore, when modern roofing
materials are used, councils will expect coloured
sheeting to be incorporated.
4.31 The location of a clamp should be considered
carefully in the context of the surrounding
landscape. Where possible clamps should be built
into sloping ground so that excavated spoil can be
used to form banks though these should be the
minimum possible and should be graded to form a
natural-looking transition with the surrounding
A more appropriate colour on the roofs would have
helped these new buildings integrate more effectively.
(Little Tring)
4.29 Traditional materials are typically brown (or
shades of red and orange), grey or black in colour
and do not reflect much light. Any modern materials
used should reproduce these characteristics. A dark
roof will counteract the effect whereby more light,
for more of the day, is reflected from a roof with a
relatively lower pitch. This effect gives a lighter
appearance than the chosen colour suggests. Darker
walls and a darker roof will also help a building
settle into the landscape by avoiding the tendency
to appear to float or hover.
4.30 Most manufacturers of fibre cement and steel
roof coverings offer a wide range of colours applied
at the factory. Standard corrugated steel roof sheets
are a common form of roof covering which may be
acceptable. Corrugated 'iron' is likely to be
acceptable in suitable cases because, like any other
steel sheet, it can be coated.
Waste storage
4.32 Most slurry and liquid waste is stored in
circular, vitreous-enamelled, steel containers. If
slurry stores are not carefully sited they can be
intrusive, largely because of their simple geometric
outlines. By using natural topography and the
screening afforded by buildings, the visual impact
of a store may be significantly reduced.
The landscape impact
of this agricultural
development is
widespread. (Ewelme)
Chapter 4: Agricultural and other rural employment buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Consideration should also be given to additional
landscape measures such as small-scale land
modelling and, if appropriate in that location, tree
planting. Most slurry store manufacturers now offer
a choice of colours.
4.33 Earth-banked lagoons and above ground
middens are sometimes used for waste storage.
From a landscape point of view they must be
designed to avoid abrupt links with their
surroundings because they could be visually
4.36 However, for a horticultural enterprise there
may be no alternative to a polythene tunnel.
Tunnels must often be sited in full light away from
buildings or trees. It is not possible to address
matters of materials or colour in the case of a
polythene-covered structure, though innovative
alternatives (colour or texture for example) will
help to lessen any impact particularly in
connection with permanent structures. Location,
siting, orientation and landscaping are therefore of
crucial importance from a landscape point of view
and can help to mitigate adverse impacts. The
extent to which site planning can mitigate the
potentially intrusive effects of polythene tunnels
will vary from case to case. In prominent positions,
visible from public viewpoints, polythene tunnels
will be inappropriate. If structures are temporary
they should be removed once their use has
Outdoor feed and grain bins
4.34 Outdoor feed and grain bins are normally
constructed from galvanised steel and can be
conspicuous owing to the high reflectivity of the
material from which they are made. However,
these bins could be colour treated to lessen the
visual impact. Wherever possible large bins should
be visually linked with other buildings, or simply
screened by them. They should not be located in
positions prominent from public viewpoints.
4.35 Polythene-covered tunnels have become
common for horticulture and for other uses. They
are sometimes used as lambing shelters since they
provide low cost, effective accommodation. From a
landscape point of view, however, such structures
are often inappropriate, particularly in sensitive
settings. In the Chilterns AONB councils will
therefore expect alternative, more appropriate
buildings for livestock.
Should any conversion take place at sites like this it would be important to retain the integrity of the roofs and
walls. (Ipsden)
Chapter 5: Conversion of buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Conversion of buildings
5.1 Checklist
Do not radically alter the appearance of a
Ensure extensions reflect the design of the
original building
Undertake appropriate protected species
surveys and incorporate bird and bat boxes
where possible
Retain existing openings and limit the
number of new openings
Do not break roof slopes with dormer
windows or roof lights
Retain as much of the original structure as
Where possible ensure materials replicate
those of the existing building
Limit the sub-division of both internal and
external spaces
5.2 It is inevitable that over the years some
buildings will become ill-suited or incapable of
being used for the purposes for which they were
originally built. In the Chilterns, changing
agriculture, a dynamic economy, considerable
social change and the ever present development
pressure has resulted in farm buildings, in
particular, changing their use. Other buildings such
as mills, schools and even chapels have
also been converted.
5.3 Most traditional buildings do not lend
themselves easily to conversion, especially to
residential use, as they have very specific forms
relating to their original function. Often the spatial
requirements for the proposed new use cannot be
readily accommodated within a building
constructed for a different purpose. This has led to
some unsuccessful conversions which were based
on significant changes to the original layout and
insertion of inappropriate new features, especially
window openings. If a proposal is to be successful
the building's appearance should not be radically
altered and any extensions should match that of
the original building.
Conversion of farm buildings
General characteristics and design
5.4 The quality of traditional farm buildings across
the Chilterns is extremely high and they contribute
significantly to the character of the area. Many
also provide roost sites for some protected species
of birds and bats and it is recommended that
appropriate surveys are undertaken to establish
their presence or otherwise. Opportunities should
be taken to include bird and bat boxes and roosts
where appropriate.
5.5 Farmsteads provided a focus for development
of most villages and hamlets in their formative
stages. There are still many working farms, and
numerous former farms now converted to other
uses, most of which retain their traditional
buildings and appearance. Farm houses are usually
individual dwellings set back from the road, and
are frequently enclosed by barns, other buildings
and walls.
5.6 The traditional brick, and brick and flint
buildings can still be found on most farms, nearly
all of which are constructed using the red brick
familiar throughout the Chilterns. A large number
Chapter 5
Successful conversion
of farm buildings
involves minimal
alteration to their
This has been
successfully achieved
in this case. (Harpsden)
Chapter 5: Conversion of buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Conversion of farm buildings
– good practice
Local and traditional
materials used throughout
New buildings are sympathetic to their
setting, taking account of the form, scale
and materials of the existing buildings
Mature trees retained and
provide setting for new buildings
Sense of enclosure
Walling is an appropriate
means of enclosure
using traditional materials
Timber barn
remains dominant
Alterations respect form,
scale and materials of
original building
Limited new
Original openings
Mature hedges retained
Traditional farm gate retained
or replaced in similar style
Poor practice
Mature trees lost and development
exposed to long distance views
Courtyard kept open, surface
material is permeable and appropriate
New buildings do not reflect local
traditions, they are too tall, with
steeper roofs, inappropriate
materials and dominant setting
Over-designed courtyard layout
which leads to loss of openness
Small gardens around edge
lead to suburbanisation
Conifer hedge cuts
farmhouse off from
original courtyard
Many rooflights added
Large, non-traditional
dormer added
Significant number
of new openings
Alterations do not respect
the form, scale and materials
of the original buildings
Ornate gates and
pillars have
suburbanising effect
Roadside facade punctuated
by many inappropriately
designed windows
Boundary hedge replaced
by formal enclosure that
is inappropriate
Bolt-on conservatory
intrudes into
courtyard space
Flues added above roofline and
on outside facing roofslopes
of timber framed barns with distinctive black
stained weather-boarding survive. Most barns have
gable-ended roofs, though some have double halfhipped roofs with plain 'red' clay tiles, and low
eaves. Many barns incorporate projecting gables or
threshing porches and are sometimes flanked by
5.7 The traditional courtyard arrangement is still
identifiable in most cases. It has become less
dominant over time as most farmers have erected
large, standard modern agricultural structures
adjacent to the older buildings.
5.8 The conversion of farm buildings for residential
and other uses is common throughout the
Chilterns, and raises several specific issues of
design. Perhaps the most common form of farm
building conversion has been from redundant
timber barn to residential units. Local planning
policies allow for changes of use with residential
being considered as a last resort, if at all. Advice
on changes of use should be sought from the local
planning authority. Reference should also be made
to publications such as Conversion of Traditional
Farm Buildings - A Guide to Good Practice (English
5.9 Many agricultural barns possess strong visual
forms. The conversion of barns into dwellings may
not always be the best way to retain this quality.
The insertion of new windows, addition of
chimneys, roof lights and all the other
requirements for a new house could, unless
handled with the utmost skill, damage the integrity
of these structures.
Chapter 5: Conversion of buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Structure and original features
5.10 The intrusion of unsuitable new openings into
farm buildings is perhaps one of the most obviously
damaging effects of unsympathetic conversion.
Traditionally, farm buildings did not have many
doors or windows and adding to them is one of the
easiest ways of eroding the original character.
5.13 The total demolition and rebuilding of the
walls of old buildings defeats the purpose of the
conservation exercise. To preserve both a building's
history and its integrity it is desirable to retain as
much of the original structure as possible. Where
building work is needed, such work should be
carried out in materials which match those of the
original building. Traditional materials, especially
roof tiles, should be re-used if possible.
5.15 Where the conversion works involve the repair
of a roof, any interesting irregularities in both
alignment and materials that the passage of time
has added, should be left, providing they are
consistent with good building practice. All too
often these subtle distortions of shape, that are
part of the charm of old buildings, are removed in
reconstruction work and replaced by new, straight
edged materials.
5.14 External features such as hoists, pigeon holes
and stone steps should be retained. Rainwater
goods are not traditional on agricultural buildings
but if they are absolutely necessary, the use of
black metal varieties is recommended. Similarly,
the existing plan form and internal features may
be important and should be researched and
recorded, if possible, when proposals for
conversion works are being drawn up.
5.16 Dormer windows usually only occur in houses.
Their introduction into otherwise plain and simple
roof forms or other types of buildings being
considered for conversion, such as barns, storage
buildings and warehouses, mills and chapels, is not
recommended. Similarly, the provision of
prominent rooflights should be avoided, although
exceptions may be made in special circumstances
where it can be shown that there is no other
acceptable way to light an internal space, the
location is on a rear and unobtrusive elevation and
a suitable type is chosen (for example those that
are flush with the roof).
5.11 Breaking into the roof slopes with dormer
windows or roof lights is particularly destructive, as
it introduces features which are alien to the
traditional farm barn. Small windows inserted into
the gable end might be appropriate in some cases.
5.12 Retention of existing openings and, where
possible, the original doors and windows, will make
both aesthetic and economic sense. Where timber
has to be replaced, simple forms and regard to the
original design, such as the size of lintels and
doorframes, will be necessary. Traditionally, timber
will have been left to
weather naturally or more
recently would have been
creosoted. A dark oak
staining of new timbers,
therefore, is usually best.
Aluminium or PVC
windows will never be
sympathetic. Window
frames in black weatherboarded elevations should
be black painted or
stained. Any distinctive
estate colours should be
5.17 Raising the roof height is considered to be an
extension of the building, as it can significantly
affect its size and appearance, and may therefore
be inappropriate. Whenever possible, the original
roofing materials should be used where repairs and
additions are being proposed. If this is not possible,
there are often sources where matching tiles or
Farm buildings often have complex and interesting
roof shapes, which should be retained. (Fingest,
credit Peter Goodearl)
Chapter 5: Conversion of buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
These buildings are all
in sympathy with their
setting and use designs
and materials which
are traditional in the
Chilterns. (Knotty
Green and Chenies)
5.18 Satellite dishes, which need to be positioned
for maximum reception and not with any regard to
any elevational appearance of the property, are
not favoured. Likewise television aerials should be
placed inside a roof space, where possible.
Inside the building
5.19 Wholesale sub-division of the, often
spectacular, open interiors of barns can destroy or
hide much of the architectural interest. Using
stand-alone pods or galleries, and allowing part of
the ground floor to extend into double height,
thereby leaving some significant part open to the
roof, are ways of overcoming this. Where internal
features of interest have survived, such as stall
divisions or grain bins, thought should be given to
their preservation and integration in the overall
slates can be obtained. The use of modern
substitutes is not recommended. Chimney stacks
are a feature of domestic dwellings, and their
addition to former agricultural buildings can cause
problems and detract from original character.
Metal flues, painted matt black, may be a better
solution, especially on weather-boarded barns.
Great care should be taken to site them as
unobtrusively as possible.
scheme. Disused machinery or other equipment,
such as threshers and mill wheels, could also be
retained and preserved, rather than discarded.
Context and surroundings
5.20 However sensitive the details of the
conversion, the effect will be spoiled if there is a
clutter of unsuitable additions. The division of
yards and paddocks by walls or fences, the
construction of garages and greenhouses, the
addition of domestic clutter such as climbing
frames and washing lines, and the siting of hardstandings must all be minimised if a detrimental
suburban effect is to be avoided. Garages should,
where possible, be accommodated in existing
buildings rather than be new, freestanding
structures in a farmyard setting.
5.21 Consideration should be
given to the repair and restoration
of other traditional buildings in
the farmstead group (historic
Dutch and pole barns for
example), alongside the
conversion itself, to enable
comprehensive preservation and a
more attractive form of
development which retains their
Chilterns character.
The integrity of the interior of this
building has been protected by the
sympathetic addition. (Harpsden,
credit Richard Bossons)
Chapter 5: Conversion of buildings
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Other buildings in the
Examples of other buildings
to be found in the
countryside include
bridges (Great Missenden),
post boxes (Hailey) and
railway stations (Chinnor).
5.22 In practice, a wide range of other forms of
buildings are found in rural areas. Obvious
examples include granaries, village halls, schools,
churches, mills, shops and other commercial
premises, and even bus shelters. There is likely to
be very little new development of these types of
buildings in the Chilterns AONB. Small scale
development may be acceptable and involve the
conversion of buildings and occasionally small new
structures. The basic design principles set out
earlier in this Guide should also be adopted for
these buildings.
5.23 A more common issue is the appearance and
design of existing commercial premises, such as
garages and pubs/diners, often
located prominently on roadsides.
Whilst new building may rarely be an
issue, the appearance of many
existing business premises could be
improved. For example, the
appearance of many garages and
petrol stations can be amended to
fit in more sympathetically with the
landscape. The need to be visible for
trading purposes is acknowledged,
but advertising and other features
should be designed to be in
character with the locality and
attract attention through good
5.24 Public Houses are one of the notable features
and attractions of the Chilterns and a very large
number are attractive buildings in their own right.
A common problem is the way in which car parks,
smoking shelters, timber decking, gas heaters,
exterior lighting and general clutter can spoil the
appearance of the pub building and its general
setting. Passing trade may be more attracted to a
pub and beer garden if the car park is not an
eyesore. There is an obvious appeal to the image
of a rose covered cottage, which is what many
Chilterns pubs actually are. Such an enduring scene
is not usually enhanced by some forms of children's
play equipment (plastic trees and dinosaurs for
example). These should be replaced by less
obtrusive alternatives that are available which are
just as popular with children. In addition,
advertising should be designed to be sympathetic
to the building and its surroundings.
Pubs do not need a
lot of inappropriate
advertising to be
(Little Marlow)
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Chilterns Conservation Board, Chilterns Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan
2008-13 A Framework for Action, 2008
DCLG, Planning Policy Statement 12 – Creating
strong safe and prosperous communities through
Local Spatial Planning, London 2008
Chilterns Conservation Board, Chilterns Buildings
Design Guide, Chilterns Flint: Supplementary
Technical Note, 2003
Department for Transport, The Manual for Streets,
London 2007
Chilterns Conservation Board, Chilterns Buildings
Design Guide, Chilterns Brick: Supplementary
Technical Note, 2006
Chilterns Conservation Board, Chilterns Buildings
Design Guide, Chilterns Roofing Materials:
Supplementary Technical Note, 2006
Chilterns Conservation Board, Bedfordshire County
Council, Buckinghamshire County Council,
Hertfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire
County Council, Environmental Guidelines for the
Management of Highways in the Chilterns, 2009
The Countryside Commission, The Chilterns
Landscape, (Ref CCP392) Cheltenham 1992
DCLG, Environment Agency, Guidance on the
permeable surfacing of front gardens, London 2008
DCLG, Circular 01/06 – Guidance on changes to the
development control system, London 2006
English Heritage, Conversion of Traditional Farm
Buildings – A Guide to Good Practice, London 2006
Institution of Lighting Engineers, Guidance notes
for the reduction of obtrusive lighting, London,
Landscape Institute, Green Infrastructure Connected and multifunctional landscapes, ILE
Position Statement, London, April 2009
Natural England, Green Infrastructure Guidance,
NE176, London, 2009, see
ODPM/DCLG, Planning Policy Statement 1 –
Delivering Sustainable Development, London 2005
ODPM/DCLG, Planning Policy Statement 7 –
Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, London
Walter Rose, The Village Carpenter, Cambridge
University Press 1937 (reprinted 1973 by EP
Publishing Ltd., East Ardsley, Wakefield, Yorkshire)
This Design Guide has been published by the
Chilterns Conservation Board which would like to
express its thanks to the following members of an
Advisory Group who have given extensive help and
Jackie Ambrose (Dacorum Borough Council)
Richard Bossons (Architect and Conservation Board
Planning Committee co-opted member)
Rebecca Coy (Wycombe District Council)
Roger Emmett (Conservation Board member,
Wycombe District Council)
Simon Odell (Hertfordshire County Council)
Paul Sargeantson (Local builder and Britwell
Salome Parish Council)
Victoria Thomson (Wycombe District Council)
Barbara Wallis (Conservation Board member, Little
Marlow Parish Council)
All photographs are by the Chilterns Conservation
Board unless otherwise acknowledged. All drawings
are by Bronwen Thomas and all design work has
been undertaken by Glyn Kuhn (Polar Design).
Chilterns Buildings Design Guide
Further Advice
Villages by General
Landscape Type
For any new development proposal you should
initially contact a Development Control Planning
Officer in the Planning Department at your local
council. Additionally, if your proposal involves a
listed building or is in a Conservation Area, you
should contact a Conservation/Listed Buildings
Officer. You will also need to contact your Local
Building Control Service.
Askett, Britwell Salome, Butlers Cross, Drayton
Beauchamp, Ellesborough, Ewelme, Great Kimble,
Hexton, Little Kimble, Sharpenhoe, Whiteleaf
Ballinger, Beacons Bottom, Beamond End,
Bellingdon, Binfield Heath, Bledlow Ridge,
Buckland Common, Cadmore End, Chartridge,
Checkendon, Cholesbury, Christmas Common,
Crays Pond, Coleshill, Downley, Dunsmore, Frieth,
Gallowstree Common, Great Hampden, Great
Kingshill, Hawridge, Hudnall, Hyde Heath,
Ibstone, Jockey End, Kensworth, Lacey Green,
Lane End, Lee Common, Lilley, Little Gaddesden,
Little Hampden, Little Kingshill, Little Oxley,
Loosley Row, Lower Sundon, Nettlebed, Northend,
Naphill, Nuffield, Penn Street, Potten End,
Prestwood, Ringshall, Rotherfield Peppard,
Russells Water, St Leonards, South Heath, Speen,
Stokenchurch, Stoke Row, Streatley, Studham,
Studley Green, The Lee, Upper Sundon, Walters
Ash, Wheeler End, Wigginton, Winchmore Hill,
Whipsnade, Whitchurch Hill, Woodcote
Details of all the councils that cover the Chilterns
AONB can be obtained from the Chilterns
Conservation Board.
The Board will also be able to provide details of
suppliers, practitioners and other useful contacts.
This list may change from time to time, so it is
recommended that you check it regularly if you
undertake projects at different times.
For further information and advice contact the
Chilterns Conservation Board at the following
The Lodge, 90 Station Road,
Chinnor, Oxon., OX39 4HA
Valley Bottom
Aldbury, Bradenham, Bryants Bottom, Chenies,
Dagnall, Great Gaddesden, Great Missenden,
Hambleden, Hughenden, Latimer, Little Missenden,
Lower Assendon, Markyate, Middle Assendon,
Nettleden, North Dean, Pheasants Hill, Radnage,
Saunderton, Skirmett, Stonor, Turville, West
Goring-on-Thames, North Stoke, Mapledurham,
Medmenham, Mill End, South Stoke, Whitchurch-onThames
This list does not include all villages in the AONB
and is used to show examples of settlements that
occur in each landscape type throughout the
Tel: 01844 355500 Fax: 01844 355501
Email: [email protected]
Radnage, a typical valley bottom village
978- 0- 9545242- 5- 8
Chilterns Buildings
an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
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