Plots and amenity

Goal: Provide usable amenity spaces for all residents

Internal amenity space

  p52. Developers and applicants should have regard to the space standards set out in the Government’s Planning Practice Guidance,NDSS (National described space standards) when designing internal amenity space.

External amenity space

  p53. Providing private or communal amenity space in the form of garden spaces, patios, and balconies (that are accessible) is important to achieve a successful and attractive development. All dwellings should seek to provide private or communal outdoor amenity space. This should be appropriate to both the location of the proposal and the type and size of dwelling. Every dwelling should have convenient access to outdoor amenity space. Provision of outdoor amenity space contributes to the wellbeing of the occupants. Amenity space can be provided in the form of a private garden, patio or balcony. Where balconies are provided, these should be generous to encourage use (e.g. enough space for a table and chairs or food and plant growing).

  p54. Awkward size gardens should be avoided, in order for them to be usable and enjoyed. Consider the orientation of these spaces and sunlight. The scale of plots and their gardens within the context of the development should be considered. New development should be proportional to the size of neighbouring plots, particularly in lower density areas with larger plots and gardens or where adjacent to burgage plots. Ensure that gardens are not overshadowed by outbuildings or garages and maximise light availability. Where no private individual gardens are proposed for apartments, private communal gardens should be provided, normally to the rear of blocks. Take account of existing trees and impacts on shading.

Neighbouring amenity

  p55. Developers and applicants should be mindful of the impact of the proposals on the amenity of future and existing adjacent occupiers. Proposals should not give rise to unacceptable impact.

Defining plots and amenity

 Figure 25

  Figure 25:
Individual plots are defined by their curtilage (plot boundaries). Their frontage should have direct access onto the street, have a varied setback considering street type and character, a clear building line, and private amenity to the rear or side of the building.

Amenity parameters

 Figure 27

  Figure 26:
Defining the scale and offset distances for private amenity and plots

Amenity with gradients and level changes

 figure 28

  Figure 27:
Considering gradients, ground levels and overshadowing when applying amenity parameters


Inform your design:

Indicate the size of plots and amenity space as part of identifying pattern and density;

Include technical studies including sun paths (sun angle diagrams) and wind modelling, where appropriate.

Communicate your design:

Prepare a plan indicating what type and size of amenity space has been provided for each residential unit;

Support your design:

National Design Guide (2019)

National Design Code Part 1: The Coding Process (2021)

National Design Code Part 2: Guidance Notes (2021)

Building for a Healthy Life (2020)

Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard (2015)


Mixed balconies on apartments (Kings Barton, Winchester)
Larger balconies on apartment corners (Crab Hill, Wantage)
Landscaped front gardens (Tadpole Garden Village, Swindon)
Example of edible gardens in public space (Abingdon)

Ensure the scheme:

    1. has an adequate amount of quality private amenity space provided for each residential unit, including apartments, or a robust justification why private amenity space cannot be provided to the standards:

      Detached or semi-detached dwellings should have a minimum of:
      • 1 Bed >= 40 sqm
      • 2 Bed >= 50 sqm
      • 3 Bed or more >= 100 sqm

      • For terraced houses >= 80% gross internal area in sqm

        For apartment buildings >= 40 sqm of communal shared space 1

        1 this can be achieved through a mixture of balcony space (excluding juliet balconies) where a private balcony achieves 5 sqm minimum (which can be subtracted from the communal space requirement above).

    2. has gardens that are rectilinear and in the orientation of the buildings flank walls. Awkwardly shaped, or impractical, garden areas should be avoided;
    3. provides residents of the buildings privacy by providing a sufficient amount of space between public and/or communal spaces and the adjoining buildings, in the form of front gardens (also known as ‘semi-private’ space). This should be accessible. The size of private amenity space should reflect the prevailing character of the area. These are the general/minimum standards for amenity space to ensure that an adequate amount is provided. Justification should be provided where private amenity space cannot be provided to meet the standards;
    4. has front gardens that contribute positively to the street scene, and has planted or permeable areas that are no less than 1m in depth on higher order streets. Front gardens should reflect the street hierarchy, density and sense of enclosure;
    5. comprises amenity space that is not compromised by the location of parking areas and garages. Gardens should not be unduly overshadowed by outbuildings or garages and make the most of the light available;
    6. has boundary treatments that are informed by a contextual analysis in terms of height, structure and materials. Make sure to maintain a single material boundary treatment along the edge of any curtilage facing a public space. Visible boundary treatments in public areas need to have cohesive treatment and be secure. Close-boarded or panel fencing is generally not an appropriate boundary treatment for prominent locations, such as street frontages. Walls offer a secure option and can be softened with planting. Hedgerow planting is best for frontages and soft boundaries, adding visual appearance and providing resources for wildlife;
    7. provides direct access from dwellings to gardens (e.g. maisonettes and ground floor apartments).

Note: All design principles are applicable to all scales of development unless otherwise specified; *minor applications, **major applications