When considering the many heritage districts that add indistinguishable character to communities across Ontario the familiar feel is held together by timeless masonry material and design. These buildings and neighbourhoods have stood the test of time and serve as a reminder of the long-term results that come with providing attention to better built form when planning the communities of tomorrow. The fact is that masonry materials provide added value, character and most of all safety to neighbourhoods. This is why Ontario consumers agree that masonry builds memorable, distinct communities and structures. In fact, a 2014 survey completed by Redfern Research indicates that 83% of respondents indicated that brick or stone cladding on homes gives a more unique character. When asked which building, material looks best, 78% chose brick or stone. Progressive urban planning includes attention to the detail of built form.
There are numerous approaches which municipal professional planners can take to exercise more control over built form in future developments. MasonryWorx recommends two policy approaches which enable better built form for your community:
(1) Prescriptive Approach: The prescriptive approach uses legislated policy frameworks to provide ridged development criteria which must be used in new developments in a community. These criteria are provided by enacting site plan control. Section 41 of the Planning Act empowers municipalities to articulate acceptable design considerations.
Section 41 (4) of the Planning Act provides that no person shall undertake any development in an area designated for site plan control unless the council of the municipality has approved among other items:
a. Plans showing the location of all buildings and structures to be erected and showing the location of all facilities and works to be provided in conjunction therewith and of all facilities and works requires as conditions of approval at no expense to the municipality, including facilities designed to have regard for persons with disabilities.
i. Drawings showing plan, election and cross-section views for each building to be erected, which drawings are sufficient to display,
ii. The massing and conceptual design of the proposed building;
b. Matters relating to exterior design, including without limitation the character, scale appearance and design features of buildings, and their sustainable design, but not only to the extent that it is a matter of exterior design, if an official plan and a by-law passed both contain provisions relating to such matter are in effect in the municipality;
c. Site Plan Control for a residential building that contains less than 25 residential units can be required where the Official Plan policies specifically provide for this. This means that municipalities CAN control the exterior cladding of singe homes should they be addressed under site plan control.
(2) The Collaborative Approach: This approach is a multi-tiered approach dependant on enabling policies at each level. The key component of the collaborative approach is to develop urban design guidelines subject to Architectural Control. The design guidelines developed by the municipality can apply to the entire community or be worked into a secondary plan. This approach allows for a municipality to engage stakeholders while expressing the design vision for the community in the future.
Block Plans: An approach being taken by municipalities is the creation of collaborative block plans. A block plan brings greenfield land owners and developers together to adhere to a development plan as requested by the municipality. It is not uncommon for a municipality to include design requirements in a block plan.
Urban Gateways: TBD
This approach is a multi-tiered approach dependant on enabling policies at each level. The key component of the collaborative approach is to develop urban design guidelines subject to Architectural Control. The design guidelines developed by the municipality can apply to the entire community or be worked into a secondary plan. This approach allows for a municipality to engage stakeholders while expressing the design vision for the community in the future.