Network of Spaces


Existing green and blue features, including hedgerows, trees, watercourses and ponds must be retained and incorporated into designs, unless to the proposal can demonstrate net benefits to green infrastructure.

All development must reinforce the green infrastructure network both within and surrounding the site.

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Private gardens should utilise mature shrub and tree species to create visual interest, year-round structure and wildlife refuge.

Native species, ideally of local provenance, will be favoured over non-native species due to their role in reinforcing the Lake District's unique landscape character and providing for local wildlife.

Where boundary features are required to plots and/or sites, use boundary features such as:

  • Dry stone walls and retaining walls
  • Hedges and hedgerows
  • Coppicing
  • Metal railings

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  • Green walls & green roofs – suitable for more urban locations, these provide opportunities for greening the street scene.

  • Private gardens – these contribute significantly towards biodiversity within built up areas.

Water and Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)

Water Efficiency

Rainwater harvesting systems should be installed in all conversions. This will ease the pressure on the local water supply during drought periods. All conversions should incorporate water butts.

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Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)

All conversions must integrate Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) that achieve greenfield run-off rates. This must be demonstrated through a site-specific drainage strategy.

In all development situations, the SuDS Management Train must be applied, as illustrated below. Surface water that is captured and managed above-ground on site for non-potable uses, such as irrigation, will always be favoured.

Where surface water is discharged into a watercourse, surface water sewer or drain or combined sewer (respectively options 4, 5 or 6 below) it must first pass through an attenuation measure as outlined in option 3, below.

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Sustainable Drainage Hierarchy

  1. Rainwater used as a resource, for example rainwater harvesting, blue roofs for irrigation.
  2. Rainwater infiltration to ground at or close to source.
  3. Rainwater attenuation in green infrastructure features in the wider site for gradual release, for example rain gardens and swales.
  4. Rainwater discharged to watercourse, unless not appropriate.
  5. Controlled rainwater discharge to a surface water sewer or drain.
  6. Controlled rainwater discharge to a combined sewer.
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  • Here at Staveley, riparian vegetation along the River Kent has been retained adjacent to new development. This not only supports the local and strategic nature network, but helps to soften views towards new built form and provide privacy for occupiers.

SuDS must be considered in the early stages of design and, where possible, incorporated within the design. Multifunctional SuDS that also allow for biodiversity and recreation will be favoured.

The form, function and design of SuDS will vary on a site-by-site basis depending on topography, ground conditions, permeability, contamination potential, adjacent watercourses and the sensitivity of groundwater receptors.

Where sites have been previously developed, the potential for ‘replacing redundant or paved or sealed surfaces and replacing this with SuDS should be explored.

The design of new SuDS must carefully, yet imaginatively, respond to local character and the setting of the scheme.

  • For developments located within towns and village cores, more formal and manicured SuDS, such as constructed rain gardens, rills and swales, may be appropriate and provide a valuable contribution towards enhancing the character of the development.
  • For developments located within the rural fringes, more naturalistic SuDS, including softsided swales, vegetated ditches, attenuation ponds and wetlands will be more appropriate.

The creative use of permeable paving and gullies that respond to their context is encouraged.

Planting choice within SuDS must consider how biodiversity and pollinators can best be provided for. The incorporation of trees and larger specimens is encouraged. The use of native plant and tree species is required.

SuDS should contribute to amenity and biodiversity. For these reasons ‘pipe to basin’ SuDS where runoff is channelled into an underground tank must only be used as a last resort to manage water runoff from a site.

The longevity of SuDS and their ongoing maintenance must be secured for the lifetime of the development. Consideration should be given to futureproofing SuDS by ensuring their capacity built today can accommodate the likely heavier rainfall events of the future. The likely long-term flood risk for a particular address can be found on the government’s website.

Applicants should refer to the SuDS Manual for detailed guidance on the correct application of SuDS in their scheme, including calculating and using greenfield run-off rates.

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  • Example of constructed rain garden with ornamental species which are more suited to town centres. Credit: India Hobson.

  • Example of constructed rain gardens with ornamental species which are more suited to town centres.

Houses near Water


Conversions adjacent to water must respond sensitively to the ecological, recreational and visual amenity of the asset, as well as have consideration for the flood risk it can pose, and the potential for contaminated run-off. Within the Lake District, water can include lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands, estuaries and the sea.

Particular design considerations must be given to conversions that are located on lake shores due to the prominence of their position in views from the lake and from other shores.

Primary frontages must be delivered on both the road-facing sides of the building to preserve visual amenity from both aspects.

Where conversions sit within large plots along lake shores, gaps between adjoining properties should be retained to allow for glimpsed views of the lake and opposite shores.

Existing trees and mature vegetation must be retained on sites unless for exceptional reasons. New tree planting is encouraged to soften views of new built form and to help integrate it into the wider landscape.

Conversions along lake shores should retain expanses of open gardens and lawn adjacent to the water. Built form up to and on the water's edge should be limited to boat houses.

The following checklist must be used to ensure new development that is located adjacent to water is designed sensitively:

  • Has a sufficient buffer zone been left between new built form and the waterbody to allow for management (normally 5m+ or 8m+ in the case of Main Rivers)?
  • Has a sufficient buffer zone been left between built form and the waterbody to allow space for wildlife? For lake shores the buffer should be at least 5m.
  • Has sufficient space been left to allow for future flood defences, if appropriate?
  • Has flood risk, including fluvial, marine, surface water and ground water, been considered within the siting and design of the development?
  • Has the SuDS Management Train (see above) been applied for managing surface water?
  • Does the site already include a SuDS? Can this be upgraded and increased in capacity of needed?
  • Is there potential for multi-functional SuDS that manage surface water, provide habitats and amenity?
  • Have opportunities to naturalise banks or enhance riparian edges for habitat been explored?
  • Has the habitat and biodiversity potential of the waterbody been enhanced through the scheme?
  • Where schemes adjoin watercourses, has effort been made to create walking and cycling routes alongside their course, where appropriate?
  • Is there passive surveillance of the waterbody from neighbouring properties?
  • Does the waterbody form a focal point within new green space?
  • Does the waterbody contribute positively towards the character of the scheme?
  • Could the conversion have an adverse impact on water quality within the waterbody?
  • Have opportunities to enhance water quality through the scheme been explored?

Biodiversity Net Gain


All development must refer to the Biodiversity SPD.

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Conversions are expected to demonstrate an overall positive impact on the natural environment. Development should contribute to nature recovery through the creation of more areas of wildlife-rich habitat in bigger patches, of better quality, that are more joined-up (see Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS)).

The priority is to retain and enhance existing habitat features of local biodiversity importance (see LNRS), for example, species-rich grasslands – both hay meadows and pasture in the low-lying valleys and lower slopes or provision of a number of Swift bricks, in all cases but especially where there is a Swift colony in the vicinity.

Any loss of habitat should be reinstated, for example reinstating hedgerows around the boundary or, where this is not possible, compensated. A qualified ecologist will make locally appropriate recommendations for biodiversity enhancements as part of the ecological assessment process.

BNG, and more general ecological enhancements delivered as part of development, should be locally appropriate and contribute to the Nature Recovery Network. As part of this network, BNG or general enhancements contribute to the reinstatement, restoration or reintroduction of local conservation priority species (as part of the emerging LNRS, an updated list of Priority Cumbria Species will be developed). The Building with Nature standards or emerging tools such as the Environmental Benefits for Nature Tool or the NATURE Tool can be used to find locally-appropriate restoration planting schemes.

Development must avoid potential impact on protected species. Where this is not possible, the Natural England licensing requirements apply (determined in the ecological assessment in light of the unavoidable impacts at the application site).

Natural environment enhancements can be delivered by:

  • including standing and fallen dead wood, scrub and a range of vegetation conditions from patches of open ground to dense vegetation.
  • planting locally-appropriate tree species, shrubs, climbers and ground plants. Cumbria PLAN BEE for pollinators, wildlife-friendly planting lists are available from a range of recognised bodies including the RHS, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, RSPB and Bug life.
  • Retaining trees and hedgerows and creating an adequate root protection zone to ensure their longevity.
  • integrating roost and next boxes into all types of development including extensions and alterations. These should be sited at the appropriate height and aspect, and be connected to habitat which allows the target species to successfully establish in. Nest boxes must comply with the relevant British Standard: BS 42021:2022. Swift bricks integrated into the walls are preferable to external boxes as they are a permanent feature of the building, require no maintenance, can be aesthetically integrated with the design and materials of the building, and have better temperature regulation with future climate change in mind.
  • Incorporating ponds and other water features within gardens.
  • Avoiding the use of hard boundaries around private spaces, unless it is traditional stone walls, and instead retain, restore, and expand on existing hedgerows to provide habitat connectivity across the site to allow for species movement. New hedge planting should be set back approximately 3m from the boundary to allow space for growth. Non-native hedge species must be avoided.
  • Avoiding both external and internal light spill from artificial lighting. General guidance provided by the Cumbria Good Lighting Technical Advisory Note and the Bat ConservationTrust addresses parameters including light levels, direction, duration and reflective glare.


Artificial grass must not be used as it has no ecological value and introduces ecological harms by removing grass habitat and introducing and impermeable plastic surface.

  • Habitat stepping stones should be provided across built up areas to create opportunities for wildlife movement between core habitat areas, such as ancient woodland.

  • Veteran trees support a large number of native bird and invertebrate species. Like all trees, their presence should be noted from the outset of the design process and should be celebrated and incorporated into green space design within new development.

  • Situated on a tributary of the Aira Beck, Dowthwaite Farmhouse overlooks a mosaic of wet grassland, sedges and pollarded willow.

  • Mature trees, hedges and shrubs provide an important refuge for wildlife within settlements, particularly within private gardens.

  • Tussocky swards can provide important refuge for invertebrates, particularly overwintering species such as beetles and spiders. This in turn supports small mammals and birds.

  • Dry stone walls provide varied microclimates and shelter for invertebrates, reptiles and small mammals. They can even be used as nesting sites for birds. Old dry stone walls are of particular importance due to their moss and lichen assemblages.

  • Mature vegetation not only effectively screens and integrates infrastructure into the landscape, but also creates movement corridors for wildlife.

  • Undisturbed areas are essential for thriving wildlife, particularly in locations which are popular for recreation.

A traditional stone built cottage.

Other Design Code chapters:

Context and Character



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