Building Design Guidance


Our aim is to encourage greater attention to the design of development within the Surrey Hills to ensure that its future as an AONB is not prejudiced. Sustaining landscape quality will be much easier if new developments respect the natural and built characteristics that exist already. Preparing a design statement will ensure that this occurs.

Preparing a Design Statement

The design statement is a document that supports your planning application by setting out how you have arrived at your design proposal. It should demonstrate how your proposal has incorporated basic principles of good design in the Surrey Hills AONB. This statement will be expected to accompany all planning applications in the AONB.

The design statement should include:

  • a short description of the plot, its history and its surroundings. Photographs would be helpful here
  • An explanation of how you have taken onboard the design principles
  • Illustrations of the proposed development in its surroundings

Sources of design advice

The local planning authority should be able to advise your Design Statements and what might be needed for your proposal. They should be able to advise you on reference material including;

  • ‘By Design’ (DETR/CABE 2000) is a national guide
  • ‘Surrey Design’ (SLGA 2002) is a county guide
  • Surrey Hills AONB Management Plan (2004) summarises key landscape features and landscape character areas.

The Design Principles

Respect the pattern of the settlement, its open spaces and greens

RespectThese following principles should be adopted for all forms of development within the Surrey Hills AONB.

Contain the development within the settlement following existing building patters and styles. The settlement of Albury (pictured right) nestles into the landscape of the Tillingbourne Valley. The buildings contribute to the beauty of the area and the wooded setting helps to minimise the impact of vehicles and parking.

Conserve the character of the setting

CharacterAvoid developing on skylines, prominent spurs and open slopes. New development respects the distinct scale, form, colour and use of materials within Albury. The dominant building material is the red/orange hued brick, and the tile hanging is a common feature of the village.

Complement the scale, height and proportion of the buildings

Aim for harmony with the height and massing of existing developments.

Celebrate the detailing of the buildings and architectural features

DetailsNew buildings should pick up local characteristics. Flint is a traditional building material generally limited to the chalk North Downs. It is usually used selectively on the facades of buildings and boundary walls.

Choose appropriate materials and finishes

tilesUse the existing local palette of colour and finishes to justify innovative solutions. hues are in keeping with the clay tiles traditionally used in the Surrey Hills, derived from Wealden Clay. Tile hanging, particularly to upper floors over brick or render construction, is a traditional feature.

Promote contemporary architecture

Contemporary ArchitectureHigh quality contemporary architecture can complement the diversity of settlements or may require a well-wooded setting in a low density area.

Value the treatment of boundaries

wallsRetain the variety in walls, hedges, fencing, natural boundaries should use native species. Bargate stone is a hard, coarse grained, calcareous sandstone, coloured by iron oxide. It is the main building stone in the area but is no longer quarried, so the best possible match should be used.

Use representative trees and landscape design

wallsRetain existing trees wherever possible. Use native varieties also.

Cherish designated landscapes

cottageRetain estate and parkland character, boundary walls, gates and cottages etc. Although keeping with character, simple variations in finishes creates rhythm in the facades of these dwellings in Shere. Boundary features enhance the setting of the building.

Celebrate local distinctiveness

Diversity is a key feature in the Surrey Hills.

Be creative on access and parking

Minimise the impact of vehicular access and parking like hard surfacing and look to improve footpath access.

For more information download our full guide;

Building Design Guide into the Surrey Hills