How a building is setback from the footpath influences the pedestrian and vehicular experience on the street and the perception of the street from inside the building.
The setback also needs to take into account the building occupants privacy, while also creating opportunities for overlooking, (eyes on the street) which improves neighbourhood safety.
Building setbacks can maintain and enhance an area's character. In new areas, setbacks can establish the character of a street by providing a consistent building line for adjacent buildings to align with.
Setbacks and front yards can provide privacy for ground floor apartments. Passersby are not able to look directly into windows as the setback provides space for screening. It can be preferable to have non-residential ground floor uses at the street frontage of a mixed use development.
Commercial ground floors should adjoin the street frontage to maintain a consistent building line. Retail uses rely on this direct interface with the street to attract passing trade.