Create a positive street edge Print

Design Outcome

Desi​gn C​hecklist

  1. ​Buildings are located as close to the street boundary as existing or planned street frontage patterns allow
  2. Commercial uses are located on ground floor areas that front the street
  3. Any ground floor residential units that front the street are carefully designed to provide adequate privacy for residents


For a street to have a sense of place, and not just be a movement zone for vehicles, due care must be given to the design of the buildings and front yards that line its edges.

In denser urban environments a clear and contiguous 'wall' of buildings along the street edge,​ with minimal front yard setbacks, is optimal for creating an active, interesting and engaging streetscape. Of primary importance when designing for this type of built environment is the interaction between the lower levels of the building and the street. The building should be designed to create activity and interest at the street level through the provision of commercial, retail or hospitality activities on the ground floor level.

Better Design Practice

In town centres, on main streets, and wherever the Unitary Plan provides for, developments should build to the street boundary.

A development that builds to the street boundary to create a continuous frontage of buildings along one or more streets is referred to as a perimeter development. Such a development may consist of a single project by one developer, or of several consecutive projects by successive developers. Well-designed perimeter developments are desirable in that they have a strong presence, effectively framing the street, and providing visual interest and activity which enhances street character.

Provide street-activating uses along street edges.

Mixed use developments contribute to creating lively street environments when they have active uses (shops, cafés, businesses or community facilities) at the ground level. Ground floor spaces facing the street should have windows and doors which look directly onto the street, with glazing comprising a major portion of the ground floor facade.

Ground floor, street facing residential units may be appropriate for quieter streets, however finished floor levels, setbacks and screening will need to be carefully considered so as to provide appropriate levels of privacy for residents. The building should also still be designed to contribute positively to the amenity of the street. Individual street-front entrances for residential dwellings can be used to provide added activity and interest to the public realm.​

Design for a safe environment.

Providing a mix of uses on site can be an effective method for creating safer environments, both on the site itself, and in surrounding areas. Where residential units are located above ground floor commercial uses commercial patrons and tenants contribute to street activity and create passive surveillance during the day, especially when commercial spaces have large windows facing onto the street. Similarly, the overnight occupation and coming and going of residents provides passive surveillance in the morning, evening and over the weekend.

Designing building entrances to be directly visible from the street also contributes to safety by ensuring that these areas are informally monitored by passers-by.​

Rules of Thumb

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