Guidance on the use of materials and surface finishes for new developments


The District Council seeks through the exercise of its planning powers to safeguard, and where possible, improve the area's natural and man made features. Such features make up important elements of the area's much valued local environment.

Traditional buildings and the materials used to construct them help to make up the identity of a particular area. Over 1,000 of these buildings are Listed as being of Special Architectural or Historical Interest and many more are protected by their inclusion within Conservation Areas.

Outside Conservation Areas developers and builders have tended to choose from a wide range of modern, industrialised materials which have no specific affinity to the local area where they are used. Overall this trend has tended to dilute or erode local character and identity to the general detriment to the local environment.

The Council wishes to protect and indeed enhance the special character of the Tendring District and this guidance seeks to encourage the use of building materials from the traditional local range or similar, modern equivalents.

This guide seeks to describe the traditional range of building materials drawn from the Tendring area or similar modern alternatives.

Planning Policies and Relevant Guidance

The importance of using appropriate materials and exterior finishes is recognised in the following documents :

1. Essex Design Guide 1997 & 2005 editions

2. Tendring District Local Plan [ Adopted 2007 ]

The above are Council approved documents which indicate that external materials and finishes are "material considerations" in the consideration and determination of planning applications. Details of the Design Guide can be obtained from Essex County Council.

In addition to the above, further useful guidance on traditional buildings and materials is included in the series of Conservation Area Character Appraisals adopted in 2006. A list of the Appraisals is included in Appendix 1. Copies can be purchased from the Regeneration, Planning & Community Service.

The Tendring Landscape Character Appraisal Volume 2 which has been used as a technical study supporting the Replacement Local Plan is also a useful source of reference. Further information is provided in Appendix 2

Traditional Materials

The traditional materials used in Tendring District include the following which can provide the basis for choosing materials for new development.


  • Render [ lime washed], weather boarding and stucco [ pargetting rare ]
  • Brickwork - predominantly red but other colours used in certain locations.
  • Stonework - few examples as not naturally occurring locally.


  • Clay plain tiles - steeper pitch roofs, orangey brown
  • Clay pantiles - less common than in Suffolk but still local examples
  • Welsh Slate - used from latter part of 19th Century
  • Thatch - originally long straw used, now water reed used.
  • Lead and Copper - used on flat, shallow pitched roofs as well as valleys, parapet gullies, valleys. Ridges and hips.

Appropriate Use of Materials in New Developments

Several manufacturers produce building materials that are similar in appearance to those used in Tendring and North East Essex. These are generally made from natural materials. To protect and enhance local identity and character the Council will normally expect these materials to be used on new development in the District.

Possible exceptions might include;

  • Extensions to existing buildings already constructed in non-traditional materials
  • Small infill schemes which lack a strong local identity and where most surrounding buildings are not constructed in materials from traditional ranges.
  • Buildings or groups of buildings of innovative, contemporary architecture whose design and construction does not suit the use of traditional materials.

In Conservation Areas materials should always be chosen from the local traditional range of handmade and natural products. Only exceptionally will non-traditional materials be acceptable.

Building Materials and finishes from the local range


Plain Tiles

Very typical of Tendring and one of the traditions that make the District different. Only acceptable colour is red. Brown and grey are unacceptable. Avoid the weathered / streaky alternatives. Clay wherever possible rather than concrete and avoid sandfaced concrete finishes.

Due to the relatively recent age of most of the main settlements e.g. Victorian, machine made plain clay tiles are often appropriate whereas in village locations particularly conservation areas and Listed Buildings hand made plain clay tiles are normally required.


Unusually for East Anglia not widely used in Tendring District. Only use sparingly where local examples survive. Avoid all modern forms and stick to traditional single pan form. For colour and other issues see plain tiles.


Use natural slates in conservation areas / listed building settings. Be aware colour can range from grey to green and purple hues. Good quality artificial slates can be acceptable in less sensitive areas. Large flat concrete tiles are not acceptable as slate alternatives due to their shape and profile. Use also on shallower pitches.


Not normally appropriate on a modern building. On a traditional thatched building an extension should be in plain tile or slate to contrast with the thatch. The preferred traditional material for the area is long straw although water reed is extensively used and may be acceptable.

Lead or Copper

May be used on low roof pitches. Other proprietary materials of similar appearance may be appropriate.



Smooth finish not roughcast or other forms. Painted in traditional pastel colours. Modern cement mixture is acceptable unless the building is listed where a lime-based mixture is essential. Pargetting is not common in the district and should therefore be used only where appropriate to local context.


Can be white or black. If residential buildings should normally be white. Black was traditionally a tarred finish for barns. Black should be avoided on new dwellings but can be used in agricultural or industrial situations.

Artificial fibrous weatherboarding may be acceptable outside conservation areas. Shiplap boarding has no local traditional precedent and should be avoided.


This material's use is not traditional in Tendring and there are few examples of its vernacular use in the District.

Such use will need to be examined carefully in its local setting.

Exposed Timber Framing

Timber framed buildings were the historic norm for the District. However, there are relatively few examples of buildings with exposed frames. The use on modern buildings is generally anomalous with the local vernacular and ought to be avoided.


Red Brick - should normally have a smooth finish and a red or orange/red colour. Generally avoid bricks with burning, rough finish, drag faced, rustic or pitted surfaces.

Yellow / Buff Stock Bricks - not traditional to this District so should not generally be permitted.

White Gault Bricks - some tradition of use in Manningtree, Brightlingsea and Dovercourt, but it must be used sparingly. A gault brick is not the same as a buff brick. It is a white brick with sometimes limited pink and yellow tones. It weathers to grey. May be useful to emphasise a key building of focus in a development.

Windows and door openings in brickwork should be inset [at least a half brick depth]. This helps give an impression of structural solidity.

Appendix 1

Adopted Conservation Area Character Appraisals are available for:

  • Ardleigh
  • Bradfield
  • Brightlingsea
  • Brightlingsea Hall & Church
  • Clacton Seafront
  • Dovercourt
  • Frinton and Walton [ 3 Appraisals ]
  • Gt. Bentley
  • Gt. Clacton
  • Gt. Holland
  • Gt. Oakley
  • Harwich
  • Kirby-le-Soken
  • Lawford
  • Manningtree & Mistley
  • Ramsey
  • St.Osyth
  • Tendring
  • Thorpe-le-Soken
  • Thorpe Maltings & Station

Appendix 2

Tendring Landscape Character Assessment [November 2001] Land Use Consultants Volume 2 Guidance for Built Development

Volume 2 of the Landscape Character Assessment presents guidance for built development within Tendring, based on the baseline Landscape Character Assessment [ Volume 1]. It may be read alone, but Volume 1 should be consulted to gain an understanding of the full context of the Study.

For each landscape character area, the report describes;

  • Key Characteristics
  • Settlement Character
  • Built Character

Guidance has been prepared on the general criteria and conditions for new built development. This includes information on siting, design, materials and areas of key sensitivity / requiring special protection. The aim is to ensure that any development conserves and enhances local character. The guidelines are intended to assist both developers and development control officers, by requiring consideration of landscape character in relation to any proposal.

Copies of the above document can be inspected at the Planning Reception, Council Offices, Weeley and can be purchased from the Regeneration, Planning & Community Service.

Last updated on: 14/11/2014 - 10:56