top of page

South Cheam’s Burton Estates Area of Special Local Character (ASLC) Design Guidelines now formally adopted

July 2017

The Belmont & South Cheam Residents’ Association was able to get a large part of South Cheam designated as an Area of Special Local Character (ASLC) in 2011 because of the consistency of its architecture and its Arts and Crafts design.  Local residents love this style and told us that they would like to see it maintained.

The area covered by the ASLC is as shown in the following map:

While it was a positive step to get the area designated as an ASLC, there was never a written definition of what the special local character is.  As a consequence this has been a little subjective in the eyes of the planners and a small number of unfortunate decisions have been made.

One of the first projects undertaken under the banner of the Neighbourhood Forum was to produce a character appraisal document to define the character of the area.  In its draft form, the document was circulated to a panel of 30 South Cheam residents for review and their comments were incorporated.  We are grateful for the support of the Cheam Ward Councillors who have also been championing our cause.

We are pleased to confirm that this document was formally adopted as planning policy by the Housing, Economy and Business Committee in June 2017 and is now being used in earnest by the LBS Planning department when determining planning applications.  We expect to see it being referred to in future Case Officer reports for planning applications in the area.

The Character Appraisal is also being promoted by the LBS Planning Department as an example of best practice for design guidelines and is attracting a lot of interest from other resident groups. 

You can get a copy of the document by clicking here.

Please let your friends and neighbours know of the existence of the document, especially if you live within the ASLC.


What are we trying to achieve?

A summary of what we are endeavouring to achieve is as follows...

Issues identified by the Council

Previous Council documents identified a number of issues for the whole of South Cheam including Burton Estate ASLC.  These included:

  • Intensification of plots leading to the loss of visual gaps and dominant landscaping between buildings;

  • Whilst architectural style is often not cohesive the palette of materials is.  Often new development  imposes a style such as Neo-Georgian Architectural porches which introduces a different palette of materials and is therefore discordant with the existing character of the area

  • Dominance of building to plot ratio in new development changes the character of the area. 


Issues identified by Local Residents

Concerns expressed by local residents in public consultations about what they see as diluting the character of the area include the following:

  • General look and feel – inappropriate design

  • Closing the gap with the neighbouring property

  • Over-bearing flank extensions on corner plot developments

  • Front dormer windows

  • Major roof extensions

  • Over-looking and over-shadowing at the rear

  • Over-height and intrusive front walls

  • Paving over the front garden


To address these concerns we have devised a number of Design Guidelines.



Design Guidelines

The design guidelines are established, not to restrict development, but to give advice and guidance to householders and their architects as to how they can improve their homes while retaining the character of the area.  Sensitive and detailed guidance and controls are in place to ensure that the cumulative effects of redevelopment do not damage the character and amenity of the Burton Estates ASLC.



Key objectives
  • Encourage development that is sympathetic to the character and appearance of the South Cheam area

  • Protect the history, character and quality of the local environment

  • Support local distinctiveness in a common style that contributes positively to the street scene

  • Preserve the ‘Arts and Crafts’ style of the Burton built houses

  • Ensure the palette of materials used is properly defined and preserved

Principal design characteristics

The development on the Burton Estates is predominantly of inter-war housing, drawing broadly on the architectural style and detailing of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and which is typical of suburban development of the 1920s and 1930s, although to a higher, or more distinguished, standard than that generally seen. 

The key design characteristics of properties already in the Arts and Craft vernacular are summarised as:

  • Architectural features of an individual property to adhere to the Arts and Crafts style.  The basic elements of the local architectural style are the use of brick and rendered elevations, red clay tiled hipped roofs, and subsidiary projecting gables and bays.

  • The property to be considered in the context of its setting and in particular in relationship to its neighbours and the local streetscene.  In this regard, it is essential to ensure that the spacious nature of the area is maintained and properties are not overly extended so as to lose the “air space” between them.

  • Front garden landscaping and front boundary treatments to also reinforce the open and spacious character of the area.


A typical Burton House as it was in the 1930s

Architectural style is predominantly Surrey Vernacular Revival – Arts and Crafts and “Tudor-Bethan”. 


The following building features form the key characteristics of Burton Estate ASLC and provide the structure for the design guidelines: 

  1. General style – a built form that is in keeping with the original houses

  2. Retention of spacious character and gaps between properties to prevent terracing

  3. Palette of materials - red bricks and red clay tiles

  4. Window styles

  5. Architectural detailing - Mock Tudor, tile hanging, tile creasing, soffit details and dentil moulding.

  6. Roofs and dormers

  7. Porches

  8. Landscaping (including front walls and gates)

  9. Street scene


bottom of page