Trafford Design Code

Help Guide

Getting Started


Trafford is a highly desirable place to live. It has excellent schools, great connectivity and a wide range of homes to choose from. Its parks and green spaces provide relief from the urban environment and opportunities for fresh air and improving wellbeing. Locally distinctive buildings, mainly in red brick, give a sense and understanding of place. Town and village centres draw in residents and visitors in both the daytime and the evening. Trafford has much to commend it and this Design Code seeks to take the best of Trafford, and use that to underpin a set of design principles, codes and guidelines to ensure that future development continues to offer distinctive, innovative and high quality placemaking which can be enjoyed for generations to come.


Good design delivers great places, and supports Trafford Council’s corporate priorities. Access to fresh air and green spaces improves wellbeing, provides opportunities for exercise and active travel, and reduces health inequalities. Access to high quality, affordable housing helps to lift people out of poverty. Embedding sustainability and carbon reduction into new development will address the climate crisis. As a fundamental principle, good design improves people’s quality of life, and where good design is available to all, reduces inequalities. It can also be used as a tool to improve accessibility and inclusivity. 


The Trafford Design Code comes at a time when design is high on the national planning agenda. Design policy in the National Planning Policy Framework has been strengthened and the government’s expectation is that there will be nationwide coverage of statutory design codes.


The Trafford Design Code makes clear to the community, developers and landowners  the quality of new development which is expected in Trafford. It has been written as a Supplementary Planning Document to sit alongside the National Design Guide and National Model Design Code as a key material consideration in planning decision making.


The Design Code has been delivered with the assistance of DLUHC through the Design Code Pathfinders Programme. This consultation draft document emerges from initial work undertaken on the draft Trafford Design Guide, and a series of extensive community and stakeholder events and workshops in addition to an on-line consultation exercise. The code has been shaped by the feedback from those events, and will continue to be drafted in consultation with the community and stakeholders. After all, it is the people who live, work and use places that understand best what makes them successful, and what can make them even better. 


The Trafford Design Code will be a vital tool in delivering the homes and jobs the Borough needs. The Council looks forward to working collaboratively with the community, developers, landowners, businesses and investors to deliver its principles and build a better Trafford.

The Trafford Design Approach

Through a landscape and place-led approach, the Trafford Design Code seeks to establish a new design standard in the borough. It will help shape the kind of places where people want to live, work and spend quality time by delivering more accessible, sustainable and beautiful development.

Trafford’s Design Code applies to all forms of development other than retrofitting, extensions to existing buildings and householder planning applications.


All applicants  will be expected to demonstrate how their design approach has been influenced by the surrounding context, including landscape, buildings, spaces, heritage and culture.


Good design should consider how to create socially and commercially attractive places which enhance their surroundings. It is for this reason Trafford Borough Council believes in the principles of ‘first life, then spaces then buildings’, established by Jan Gehl.

Healthy Places

Healthy placemaking should run as a golden thread through the design of all developments in Trafford. Healthy placemaking seeks to create development that enhances our everyday life through; being attractive, sustainable, connected, socially and environmentally resilient, inclusive, accessible and community focussed.

All development proposals must strive for quality and create responsive outcomes which are embedded in their place. Design proposals should have full regard for the Strategic Design Principles that are outlined within this Code. The influence of place and landscape should be clearly illustrated in the development proposal and supported by a compelling narrative to support the design intent.

The National Design Objectives

The National Design Guide addresses the question of how we recognise well-designed places, by outlining and illustrating the Government’s priorities for well-designed places in the form of ten characteristics. Trafford’s Design Code adopts the same design principles but sets out the character of the Borough, requiring new development to be appropriate to the context, history and the cultural characteristics of Trafford. 


The underlying purpose for design quality and the quality of new development at all scales is to create well-designed and well built places that benefit people and communities.

The National Design Guide is structured around ten characteristics of good design:

  • Context
  • Identity
  • Built form
  • Movement
  • Nature
  • Public Spaces
  • Uses
  • Homes and buildings
  • Resources
  • Lifespan

The National Design Guide

Trafford Coding Plan

Applicants must identify where their proposed development site is located and the relevant area type to determine which sections of the Trafford Design Code are applicable to their project.

Trafford’s Area Coding Plan identifies a series of ‘Area Types’. These are areas of similar character that allow elements of the design code to be set out depending upon which area type a development is within. Area Types do not necessarily correlate with the Trafford Places identified in the Design Guide and are broadly divided into previously identified allocations for substantial new development, existing established areas of built development, and countryside areas.

The Area Types are as follows:

New Places – High Rise:

High Density: covering Strategic Locations in the north of the Borough – Pomona, Trafford Wharfside, the Civic Quarter, and Trafford Waters.

New Places – Low Rise:

Low Density: broadly covering the New Carrington and Timperley Wedge allocations in Places for Everyone, with the exception of the land south of the Red Brook in New Carrington.

Town Centres: 

The town centres of Altrincham, Sale, Stretford and Urmston.

Industrial and Commercial: 

Trafford Park and Broadheath. 


The remainder of the existing built up area of the Borough where development is anticipated to predominantly come forward on infill sites.

Rural and Villages: 

Broadly covering Warburton, Dunham and their rural surroundings and including land in New Carrington south of the Red Brook. 

Green Belt and River Valleys: 

Everything not covered by the above, where little, if any development is anticipated and which can be covered by general code-wide design principles. 

Using the Code

The landing page for the Code immediately sets out the options available to users. The introductory part ‘Learn about the Code’ is split into three sections:


This section comprises the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of the Design Code and its vision. The vision is, in short, designing for the way people live, creating quality and healthy places and design influenced by Trafford’s rich heritage and culture. Underpinning this are the eight strategic design principles which are consistent with the consultation draft Trafford Design Guide.

Suggested background reading

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