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Newmarket aiming to 'entice strong design' in future developments
June 29, 2021

The town is finalizing urban design guidelines that highlight eight objectives, including creating 'human scaled' buildings, and providing amenities for residents

The Town of Newmarket is preparing to get the community board with new urban design guidelines to encourage harmonious future development.

The guidelines are a non-binding set of ideals for developers to strive for when making infill development, including low, medium and high-rise buildings. Fotenn Planning + Design has worked on the guidelines alongside the town for the past year, which council reviewed in a workshop session June 28.

Mayor John Taylor said it is very important work.

“Helps to get the development community thinking in line with our vision,” Taylor said. “This is a really, really good step forward.”

The town-wide guidelines build upon municipal policy to chart out how developers should build in existing settings. The aim is to help conversations between developers and planning staff, providing a reference for how developments can fit into the community. The municipality will not mandate the guidelines.

Project manager Matt Reid said developers could get on board, knowing that respecting the guidelines could help their proposals progress more quickly.

"It's really about clarifying the town's priorities and expectations and using this as a way to entice strong design," he said.

Reid showed the eight different objectives for buildings within the guidelines, including:

Deputy Mayor Tom Vegh complimented the report but commented on some of the "tensions." He said there could be issues with the guidelines encouraging ground floor retail development, if there is not enough of a demand for that type of space.

Reid responded that will not be required and developers could propose alternatives to have something "lively" on the street.

Vegh also said he likes the public spaces, but it could limit the amount of housing that is built.

"It will have an impact on the number of housing units built and also the costs of those units," Vegh said.

But Taylor said maintaining that space is vital.

"Outdoor shared public spaces, they're what builds amazing communities," Taylor said.

The guidelines include an evaluation form for both staff and developers to use. Councillor Bob Kwapis said that should help developers navigate the document.

"The eight objectives, it's going to be challenging to try and meet all of them," Kwapis said. "The evaluation matrix, I'm sure, will make it a lot simpler."

Council made no decisions about the guidelines at the meeting. Staff will present a follow-up report to for council for approval later in the summer or early fall.