Newmarket approves new guidelines for urban design

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Town of Newmarket has approved new urban design guidelines that council says are needed to ensure new developments fit with surrounding buildings and mitigate impacts on neighbouring properties.

Adrian Cammaert, manager of planning services and Matt Reid, project manager at Fotenn Planning + Design, presented the final draft guidelines to councillors last week and he says the goal is to provide developers with “desired objectives” for new residential construction.

“Urban design guidelines a very important tool to make great places,” he said. “They work in concert with our official plan policies, our secondary plan policies and our zoning standards to further ensure that new development fits within its character,” Cammaert said.

Newmarket urban design

Guidelines will apply to all development applications across the town and will focus on low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise buildings. Although the guidelines are not binding on developers, they are based on official plans that have mandatory requirements.

The document also provides recommendations and design guidelines for privately owned public spaces only in the urban centre.

There are eight design objectives that Reid said are “the elements that we think underscore what makes a great development.” They are:

  1. Fit harmoniously into the established context
  2. Mitigate impacts on adjacent properties
  3. Create attractive, human-scaled buildings
  4. Support walkability and active transportation
  5. Minimize vehicle presence in the public realm
  6. Promote vibrant streets
  7. Provide amenity space for all residents
  8. Ensure safety and accessibility for all

By structuring the guidelines with those eight design objectives in mind, Reid said it will be easy for the town to have a flexible and intent driven document.

“We can start to articulate the intent,” he said. So, rather than just saying a building should be a certain height, we can say a building should be a certain height because of the following objectives.”

Mayor John Taylor says the guidelines are extremely important as Newmarket continues to grow at a fast pace.

“As we’re seeing more infill and more complex development and more density introduced into our town, it’s important to make sure it’s the best it can possibly be and provide those guidelines in advance so we can be proud of what occurs and not look back later and say maybe that doesn’t look as good as it could have,” he said.

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