A fresh look at Supplementary Guidance – Port Dundas

17 January 2017 | blog, cities, frameworks, neighbourhood, place making, strategy, supplementary guidance

Port Dundas Aerial View - Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance

Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance – Summary:

The Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance document was intended to make a clear break from traditional planning guidance and set out a series of ideas for the development of the Port Dundas area which matched the aspirations for the site arising from the Port Dundas Planning Charrette held in 2014. The work was commissioned by Glasgow City Council.


former Diageo plant - Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance

Port Dundas offers a unique residential, business and recreational environment, based on the principles of low carbon dependency while drawing on the heritage of the area and the unique qualities of the site. It is a place where living, working and recreation could merge seamlessly to create a definitive model of 21st-century lifestyle in an attractive, high quality and sustainable environment.

The purpose of the Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance is to translate the vision for Port Dundas which was developed through the Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals and Scottish Government funded Charrette held in 2014 into clear, concise planning guidance that will be challenging to developers while still being commercially viable.

The Supplementary Guidance aims to assist in transforming Port Dundas into a high-class lifestyle, leisure and business location. It will provide clear guidance to all developers on the desired standards that should be adopted when planning new developments within the area.

Within the Port Dundas, new development must make a contribution to the quality of life, environmental performance and economic development of the area. This contribution will result in the transformation of Port Dundas into a high-quality lifestyle, leisure and business location.

While all development in Port Dundas is subject to the policies and strategies of the Council as planning authority, in order to achieve this vision the following supplementary guidance also applying the Port Dundas area.

The Council will approve development in the Port Dundas area subject to other policies, if:

  1. it is demonstrated, through the mix and balance of uses, and design of structures, that innovation and experimentation have been employed in the pursuit of the highest levels of economic, social, and environmental sustainability
  2. it is demonstrated that the energy performance has been carefully considered in the design process to result in buildings and layouts which have exemplary energy performance or introduce innovation in this regard
  3. buildings demonstrate future-proofing through flexibility in their design to allow for easy extension or conversion to other uses over the full life-span of the building
  4. it is demonstrated that the layout and design of buildings promotes the creation of social hubs, civic spaces, streets as places, and active frontages within developments
  5. it is demonstrated that the implementation of open space requirements emphasise the aspiration for active lifestyles within the area
  6. there is a commitment to the provision of high-quality landscaping which contributes to a unified sense of place within the Port Dundas area

This document contains specific advice as a guide to achieving these specific requirements. This advice also sets out appropriate responses to meeting other, more general, planning policy requirements.


Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance - Key Diagram
Traditional design guidance tries to achieve improvements in some of the aesthetic, stylistic and functional characteristics of new developments but although these are relatively modest ambitions, there is little evidence that it works in most circumstances.

Glasgow City Council is therefore now adopting a more engaged and forthright approach to design across the area. In this approach, place quality characteristics such as innovation, talent attraction, quality of life, wellbeing, health and learning represent a much deeper set of parameters than building design.

The Supplementary Guidance should therefore be concerned with:

  • place performance (exchange, learning, social capital, energy reduction, experience)
  • landscape (experience, energy and heritage)
  • process (institutions, co-production, engagement)
  • core infrastructure (transport, energy, and food)
  • new development patterns (working with site assets)

The characteristics of a more effective set of Supplementary Guidance principles would include:

  • enabling process rather than fixing micro-place outcomes
  • avoiding overly prescriptive control
  • permitted development on the basis of performance rather than conformance and giving priority to content over form
  • dealing with relationships rather than objects – eg building interfaces with the public realm, adjacencies instead of wasted space, and landscape linked to experience, energy and heritage
  • environmental performance embracing energy, biodiversity, food, waste, water

This is the underlying philosophy and approach to the Supplementary Guidance, which was proposed for three key areas:

1 Quality of Life

One of the outcomes of the Port Dundas Planning Charrette was an aspiration to integrate quality of life, environment and economy combine to produce a new ‘lifestyle area. Access to quality education at primary, academy and university level is a traditionally important factor as is the state of the local economy but other factors have been shown to be consistently stronger including:

  1. a) social offerings such as places to meet or entertainment venues
  2. b) openness or how welcoming a place is
  3. c) the area’s physical attributes and green spaces

The Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance is tailored to promote these factors through encouraging higher standards in the following areas:

  • the relationship of development to landscape
  • better movement networks
  • density patterns
  • strengthening existing centres or facilities
  • the co-location of new facilities
  • encouraging vibrant mixed communities
  • integrating working environments
  • encouraging innovation
  • re-using heritage

2 Environmental Performance

Port Dundas aspires to be a truly sustainable area providing a model of development. A key aim is to deliver a quality of place that will attract and retain potentially mobile businesses and the highly skilled staff they require.

To achieve this, the Supplementary Guidance is adopting two overarching strategic targets relating to carbon emissions reductions and ecological footprint reductions in the Port Dundas area:

  •  a carbon emissions reduction of 80% by 2050 (and an interim target of 42% by 2020). This is already a legally binding target of both the Scottish and UK Governments, introduced in response to the threat that climate change presents to the future well-being of society. However, as yet, very few development projects have adopted these targets as a core aim
  • an ecological impact reduction target of 66% for new developments. Different countries consume at different rates, but ecological foot-printing analysis suggests that, in the UK, we need to reduce our ecological impact by around 66%, if we are to play our part in keeping global impacts within tolerable levels

3 Economy Growth

Port Dundas aims to generate the conditions for a step change in the business environment by attracting inward investment. Sustainable economic development depends on setting the conditions for the development of new and the growth of existing firms that add sustainable value to the economy through their activities whether through technology, job creation, or social value benefits. To be globally competitive continuous productivity increases are vital and this, in turn, depends on innovation.

Seven areas of Supplementary Guidance have been set out which will help to create innovative and dynamic environments. One of the key areas is improving the interface between communal areas and private realm, for example through visibility and overlooking, active frontages, boundary treatments and the positioning of entrances. Another would be the way in which development facilitates street design in neighbourhoods that create opportunities for informal social contact, play and community events.

A focus on the spaces in and between buildings and the connections between these spaces is another key component of the guidance. This suggests that consideration needs to be given to clustered building entrances, facilities for sports and informal recreation, public spaces near the workplace, high amenity, well-located bus stops and more consideration given to social spaces.

Key Ideas

100 Acre Hill - Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance

At the core of the Supplementary Guidance are the following five key principles, which are intended to differentiate Port Dundas from other areas. These principles will be supported by detailed advice available set out in Section 5:

  1. The acceptance and encouragement of innovation and experimentation in land use and design where it can be seen to progress the economic, social and environmental sustainability of Port Dundas. This will be reflected in the mix and balance of uses in developments.
  2. The energy performance of layouts and buildings is expected to be exemplary.
  3. Future-proofing of buildings will be achieved by the flexibility of built forms and enhanced space standards.
  4. There will be a particular emphasis on sustainable“social hubs” and civic spaces and how well buildings relate to them both in terms of form and active frontages. The provision of open spaces will relate to the lifestyle being promoted in Port Dundas and will be of a high quality, allowing access to the wider network of canals, greenspace and woodland around the site.
  5. A higher quality and unified design of landscaping will be required within the area. This will particularly apply to employment areas which must be of a standard which can compete on a global market and attract inward investment.

Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance - Payne Street Area SG


The Draft Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance was produced in September 2015 but was overtaken by and absorbed into the emerging bigger policy picture during 2016-2017 in the shape of the City Development Plan. The Draft Port Dundas Supplementary Guidance may continue as a document that the City Council forward planning team will refer to in the future. However, it will have only a limited status in the Development Management sphere as the Guidance, unfortunately, did not progress through the public consultation and SEA processes and therefore did not become a finalised document.

From our perspective, this work was an opportunity to build on the earlier Placemaking Guidance for the Energetica Corridor in Aberdeenshire. Working with Glasgow City Council DRS was a positive experience and improved substantially on the original guidance principles.