Trafford Design Code



I1. Respond to existing local character and identity


I2. Well-designed, high quality and attractive
places and buildings


I3. Create character and identity


The identity or character of a place comes from the way that buildings, streets and spaces, landscape and infrastructure combine together and how people experience them. It is not just about the buildings or how a place looks, but how it engages with all of the senses. Local character makes places distinctive and memorable and helps people to find their way around. Well-designed, sustainable places with a strong identity give their users, occupiers and owners a sense of pride, helping to create and sustain communities and neighbourhoods

Well-designed places, buildings and spaces:

  • have a positive and coherent identity that everyone can identify with, including residents and local communities, so contributing towards health and well-being, inclusion and cohesion;
  • have a character that suits the context, its history, how we live today and how we are likely to live in the future; and
  • are visually attractive, to delight their occupants and other users.

I1. Respond to existing local character and identity

Local identity is made up of typical characteristics such as the pattern of housing, and special features that are distinct from their surroundings. These special features can be distinguished by their uses and activity, their social and cultural importance, and/or their physical form and design. Most places have some positive elements of character, particularly for their users. These can help to inform the character of a new development.

Well-designed new development is influenced by:

  • an appreciation and understanding of vernacular, local or regional character, including existing built form, landscape and local architectural precedents;
  • the characteristics of the existing built form – see Built form;
  • the elements of a place or local places that make it distinctive; and
  • other features of the context that are particular to the area –  see Context.

New development should consider the following elements of identity:

the composition of street scenes, individual buildings and their elements

the height, scale, massing and relationships between buildings

views, vistas and landmarks

legibility – how easy it is for people to find their way around


the scale and proportions of buildings

Facade design and the patterns of facade design that create streets

The degree of symmetry or variety in facades

The proportions of windows and doors, and their details

the scale and proportions of streets and spaces

hard landscape and street furniture

soft landscape, landscape setting and backdrop

nature and wildlife, including water

light, shade, sunshine and shadows

colours, textures, shapes and patterns

soft landscape, landscape setting and backdrop

I2. Well-designed, high quality and attractive places and buildings

Well-designed places and buildings are visually attractive and aim to delight their occupants and passers-by. They cater for a diverse range of residents and other users. All design approaches and architectural styles are visually attractive when designed well.

Well-designed places appeal to all our senses. The way a place looks, feels, sounds, and even smells, affects its enduring distinctiveness, attractiveness and beauty. Well-designed places contribute to local distinctiveness. This may include:

adopting typical building forms, composition, articulation, proportions, features, materials, details, patterns and colours of an area

drawing upon the architectural precedents that are prevalent in the local area, including the proportions of buildings and their openings

using local building, landscape or topographical features, materials or planting types

introducing built form and appearance that adds new character and difference to places, with particular attention to how buildings meet the ground and sky

creating a positive and coherent identity that residents and local communities can identify with

Materials, construction details and planting are selected with care for their context. They are attractive but also practical, durable and affordable. They contribute to visual appeal and local distinctiveness. In well-designed buildings, the materials and details suit the design concept and they are consistently followed through the construction process to completion

I3. Create character and identity

Design decisions at all levels and scales shape the character of a new place or building and help to create a memorable sense of place. Character starts to be determined by the siting of development in the wider landscape, then by the layout and grain – the pattern of streets, landscape and spaces, the movement network and the arrangement of development blocks. It continues to be created by the form, scale, proportions, design, materials, details, patterns and colours of buildings and landscape. In this way, it creates a coherent identity for residents and communities to identify with.

Where the scale or density of new development is very different to the existing place, it may be more appropriate to create a new identity rather than to scale up the character of an existing place in its context. New character may also arise from a response to how today’s lifestyles could evolve in the future, or to the proposed method of development and construction. Larger scale new developments, such as garden villages or urban extensions, may benefit from a variety of characters so that different areas or neighbourhoods each have their own identity.

Where the character of an existing place has limited or few positive qualities, then a new and positive character will enhance its identity.

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