Design and Heritage

Keele has a long history and the village is an excellent example of an estate village re-modelled in the 1860s.  Although there have been many changes since that time the essence of the village and the Sneyd estate remain, and how this can be retained while moving into the 21st century is one of the challenges to be addressed in the neighbourhood plan.

We have developed a set of design codes for our Neighbourhood Plan which can be viewed here:

Keele_NP_DesignCode FINAL_Optimized

Our proposed policies are:


To ensure that development is well-designed, sustainable and creates a distinctive sense of place.

To preserve and enhance the historic character of the village.

Rationale and Evidence

National policy and guidance

Local Plan policies.

Heritage assets.

Village character

Need address issues around low quality design in new housing.

General issues around design quality and sustainability are dealt with by Policy KHD1. KHD2 deals with local character. KHD3 and KHD4 relate to historic areas. KHD5 addresses infill development, including amenity considerations.

KHD1: Sustainable Design

  1. Landscape infrastructure must form an integral part of the design and layout of built development, to support the creation of a high-quality environment.
  • The design and layout of built development must create an attractive, permeable and convenient environment for pedestrians. New footpaths must have convenient links to surrounding footpath networks, to provide easy movement between the development and the surrounding area.
  • Development must create a safe environment, in particular by presenting active frontages (containing doors, windows) to street frontages, to provide natural surveillance. Development that presents blank frontages to the street will be resisted.
  • The layout of built development should provide clear separation between public and private space, in particular in avoiding placing rear gardens adjacent to street frontages.
  • New homes must include discreetly located and screened storage for bins and recycling, minimising visibility from the public realm. 
  • Development must include sustainable urban drainage, including permeable hard-0surfaced areas to allow drainage of surface water.


The application of the policy depends on the scale and nature of development. For example, those parts of the policy that apply to the layout of pedestrian paths would only apply where new layout forms part of the development, but not to small-scale development within an existing curtilage. The requirement to create a safe environment would be relevant to new housing development, but could also apply to a high fence or wall to a site boundary.

The requirement for landscaping to form an integral part of design and layout is intended to prevent poor quality housing development in particular, for example housing layouts based on highway standards and division into plots, with planting of the leftover bits of land.

The policy gives priority to pedestrians in the design and layout of development, including connections to the surrounding area.

Active frontages could include doors, windows and balconies. Inactive frontages would include black building elevations or high walls or fences as boundary treatments. The requirement to avoid placing rear gardens adjacent to street frontages avoids the need to place high walls or fences on street frontages (inactive frontages).

KHD2: Local Character

  1. Development must be designed for the specific site and context, to create a locally distinctive sense of place.
  • Development must complement the townscape characteristics of the street and context in terms of  scale, height, massing, and degree of set-back from the road.
  • Built development must take into account of, and maintain, views towards St John’s church spire.
  • Development must take opportunities to respond to topography in its form and layout.
  • Use of local materials, recycled materials, low-embodied-energy materials and high-environmental-performance materials is encouraged.
  • Creative or innovative design solutions, designed for the specific site and context, will be supported, including designs that incorporates superior environmental performance.


The policy is not intended to supress creativity or require stylistic copying, but to ensure that new development complements the landscape and built character of Keele. The policy makes explicit that the intention is not to supress creativity or innovation.

Responding to topography could include use of stepped roof forms, or allowing elevated views to the surrounding countryside through the layout of development. Landscape design can also include stepped forms, responding to topography.

Local materials include red brick, painted render and plain clay tiles.

KHD3: Keele Village Conservation Area

  1. Within Keele Village Conservation Area, development must preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area and its landscape setting. This includes:
  • Complementing the predominant two-storey height of existing properties;
  • Responding to existing townscape characteristics, based on a mix of small cottages, short terraces, and detached and semi-detached properties.
  • Setting-back properties behind front gardens, to complement the existing character.
  • New buildings and extensions should use authentic materials, based on the historic palate of materials, or green materials. Synthetic substitutes for traditional materials should not be used (such as plastic finished to look like timber).
  • Boundary treatments must complement the historic character, including use of hedges and low (below 1 metre) brick walls.


The policy augments Policies KHD1 and KHD2, setting additional requirements for Keele Village Conservation Area. The policy sets out the key characteristics of the Conservation Area as a guide to consideration of whether development would preserve or enhance the character or appearance.

For clarity, the special architectural or historic interest of the Conservation Area is based on the historic village, so consideration of impacts on the character or appearance should be made against that context. The Hawthorns Estate is a recent housing development, so only contributes to the special interest of the Conservation Area in terms of surviving landscape and trees and surviving historic building.

Standard housing estates based on standard highway layouts and standard house types would fail to meet the requirements of policy, especially if loss of trees was involved.

Historic materials used in the Conservation Area include brickwork (some painted), render, plain clay tiles, timber windows, eaves and detailing.

KHD4: Keele Hall Conservation Area and Historic Park and Garden

  1. Within the Keele Hall Conservation Area and the Keele Hall Historic Park and Garden, development must preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area and Historic Park and Garden, including complementing the established historic landscape character, whilst also meeting the requirements of Policy KUC1.


The policy augments Policies KHD1 and KHD2, and also applies together with Policy KUC1.

KHD5: Infill Development

  1. Infill development for gaps in existing built frontages will be supported where:
  • It would complement the existing townscape character, including typical gaps between properties;
  • Gaps between properties would be sufficient to allow access for maintenance;
  • There would be no significant harm in terms of light and amenity of neighbouring properties;
  • Both existing and new dwellings would have adequate garden space, taking account of the existing character of gardens in the area;
  • There would be no blocking of public access or footpaths.


The policy addresses both character and amenity for infill development. Infill is the redevelopment of buildings or development of gaps in existing built frontages.  

Adequate garden space is not defined in terms of area, but would need to be sufficient to support normal garden activities such as play, sitting and eating out, plant or food growing, and drying of clothes.

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