Building separation and outlook Print

Desi​gn Checklist​

  1. Building separation distances both onsite and between adjacent sites are optimised based on the scale and arrangement of the terraced housing 
  2. The building minimises the overshadowing of private or communal outdoor spaces of adjacent properties, including potential future properties or spaces
  3. Long lengths of terraced housing, including linear or courtyard formations, located perpendicular to the street are avoided​
The distance between buildings is a key factor in the success of any development. For terraced housing the primary concern is the back-to-back distance, which influences a range of qualities including:
  • visual and acoustic privacy
  • the admittance of sunlight and daylight
  • microclimatic performance, especially shelter from wind
  • the provision of on-site open space behind buildings
  • support for planting.

This section addresses the issue of visual amenity across boundaries and for sloping topography.

Better Design Practice

A good design requires an understanding of where on the site the best place is to put the building. Massing towards the street or public open space, and a site layout that demonstrates a clear understanding of ‘public fronts and private backs’, allows the development to build up to public areas, maximise the amount of private open space behind the building and maximise separation from any neighbours. Ensure the building separation allows for the admittance of sunlight and daylight as well as providing a good standard of outlook. A wider separation distance is always better than a smaller one and designs should allow for sunlight access into the outdoor spaces of all terraced houses during the winter solstice.

Separate taller rows of terraced houses to a greater degree, in particular where windows directly face the windows of another development across the boundary. Use building separation to achieve the best building orientation for sunlight and outlook, and consider the same for adjacent sites and open spaces. This will require a shading analysis of neighboring sites and an understanding of where their outdoor spaces are. Design the terraced housing to anticipate where neighbouring sites are likely to redevelop or where areas are changing. The correct response will depend on the site, but building along any street edge and maximising the separation distance is always a good outcome. Consider breaks in rows of terraced houses where the fronts of terraced houses are located perpendicular to the street and accessed off a shared access-way. This will offer a third façade edge for sunlight access to the end of terrace houses. It can also provide the opportunity for onsite amenity, including mature landscaping which improves outlook. Visitor parking spaces can also be slipped in between these breaks if carefully designed.

Rules of Thumb

Ensure that back to back distances between terraced houses, measured from the edges of facades or balconies (whichever is greater), are separated greater than 12-metres.

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