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New Design Code sets out rules for developers to improve ‘look and feel’ of town centre

Mansfield has a new Design Code which should improve the look and feel of buildings, streets and open spaces in the town centre.

The council says that it should lead to tangible differences in the town centre, including making it greener, more accessible more pedestrian and cycle-friendly, and less cluttered with signs and street furniture. It will also provide more protection for the town’s heritage buildings and better protection against the risk of flood.

The new planning policy document has been formally adopted by Mansfield District Council, a year after it was selected by the Government to be one of 25 local planning authorities in England to ‘pilot’ the development of Design Codes.

The council was awarded £120,000 to fund the project and the Code was drawn up following widespread consultation with the community and interested parties.

Mansfield’s Code has been identified as an example of best practice and further funding of £40,000 has now been provided to the council to monitor how effective the code is in delivering high-quality design, and to enable the council to advise in the development of Design Codes across England.

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The Code sets out rules and options for developers and aims to encourage buildings to be of high-quality design and to respect the historic character of the town centre.

It stipulates how tall buildings can be and how they should fit in with the street scene. It also provides guidance on suitable building materials and landscaping, even determining features such as the width and colour of double yellow lines and other road markings.

It stipulates, for instance, that footways must be level, at least 2m wide and that these pedestrian corridors be clear of obstructions such as lighting columns and sign posts and with tactile paving at dropped kerbs to assist blind or partially sighted people.

Executive Mayor Andy Abrahams, who took an Executive decision today (15 November) for the council to adopt the Code, said: “This new Code should bring about many changes to the way our town centre looks.

“Some of these will be subtle, others less so but the overall effect will be to make the town centre greener and more attractive, easier for people with disabilities to navigate and more respective of its architectural heritage.

“While it will provide a level of certainty for the council, developers and the local community, at the same time we also don’t want new developments in the centre to look overly standardised and samey, and the Code will remain flexible enough to allow innovation, too.

“We have worked hard to involve the community and interested parties to develop the Code and I am delighted that the council’s work on this project is considered, nationally, as an example of best practice.

“The additional funding from the Government is welcomed and will allow us to monitor the Code and to improve its effectiveness.”

The new Code aligns with the aims and ambitions of the Mansfield Town Centre Masterplan.

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