Council seeks approval for Wichelstowe District Centre design code

The Design Code for the Wichelstowe District Centre is now open for formal consultation. It has been submitted by the Wichelstowe team at Swindon Borough Council for approval by the council’s planning committee.

Design code illustration for canalside
Illustration of build form along the canalside
Despite the intention to be less prescriptive about building appearance than in East Wichel, the District Centre design code runs to 132 pages compared to just 29 pages for the East Wichel design code. The submitted code is close to the summary the council sought opinions on in October. As well as specifying the types and possible uses of buildings in central Wichelstowe, road layouts, building lines and maximum heights of buildings, the code also specifies whether frontages should be straight or irregular, the location of bus stops (4 of them), ‘key vistas’ (also 4), what colour bricks may be used (3 choices) and the colour of paving (5 choices). The code also suggests that a footbridge over the canal could incorporate public art, though at the same time “The design and materiality of the footbridge must be complimentary to the overall material palette of and character of the District Centre square.”

Design code details for terraced houses
Terraced house topology guidance
The centre will include not just retail and leisure facilities, but also schools and an area set aside for older people’s housing. There may also be a doctors’ surgery, though that is subject to agreement from the NHS.

The code covers not just commercial and civic buildings in central Wichelstowe but also the design of some of the adjacent residential blocks. This will be the most densely built part of Wichelstowe, with a greater proportion of homes being flats than in any other part of the development. Perhaps surprisingly, given how controversial parking has been in East Wichel, the provision of residential parking in the district centre design code seems to be only slightly more generous than in East Wichel, with the average likely to be less than 2 parking spaces per home. Although there will be some bays for on-street parking, the code specifies that parking bays will not be marked.

Comments on the district centre design code can be submitted to the council up to 4.30pm on 17 January 2017, either through the council’s planning portal, or to the address given on the council’s Wichelstowe website.