The policies of this section address how land can be used and developed and relate to Schedule H1 Land Use and Schedule H2 Maximum Building Heights.
Centretown as a whole is a mixed-use community comprised of distinct areas or neighbourhoods, some of which are more mixed than others but each of which has its own physical character. These “character areas”, identified on Annex 1 and described in detail in the Centretown CDP, are very important to the continued evolution of Centretown. The Residential Character Areas, comprised almost entirely of low-rise buildings, are the most consistent and uniform neighbourhoods in Centretown; they are generally attractive and healthy and are not planned for significant physical change. The Northern Character Area is an area of high density development that is planned for more residential and mixed-use intensification in mostly tall buildings that frame and enliven adjacent streets. The Southern Character Area, defined for the most part by automobile-oriented commercial uses and underutilized land, has the potential, like its northern counterpart, to accommodate a significant amount of the planned growth in Centretown in generally tall buildings.
The Central Character Area is the most complex of the character areas. Containing parts of Bank, Elgin and Metcalfe Streets, Somerset Village, and the Museum of Nature, it is the core of Centretown and accommodates an assortment of uses. Its charm derives from its eclectic, ever-evolving character. With a number of vacant or underutilized lots, parking lots and aging buildings that lack heritage value, it is expected to continue to evolve to accommodate more residential and mixed-use development that respects and complements the many historic buildings and streetscapes in the area.
The policies below respond to the varying land use and built form visions for each character area. They are linked to the Land Use and Maximum Heights maps appended to this Plan (Schedules H1 and H2).
3.9.1 Residential Character Areas
The predominant land use designation in the Residential Character Areas is Residential, as identified in Schedule H1. This designation permits detached, semi-detached and converted houses, townhouses and low-rise apartment buildings. Public open spaces are also permitted throughout Residential areas.
In the west Residential Character Areas, Somerset Street east of Percy Street and Gladstone Avenue, are considered Secondary Mainstreets. In addition to low-rise forms of housing, small-scale, neighbourhood-oriented commercial uses shall be permitted on properties fronting these streets. Somerset Street west of Percy Street is considered a Traditional Mainstreet, where retail or public uses are required on the ground floor of buildings.
New development in the Residential Character Areas shall be consistent with the prevailing pattern of development along the street in the immediate vicinity, in terms of front and side yard setbacks and massing. The maximum height shall be the lesser of 14.5 metres or 4 storeys, except for the R4V zone east of Elgin Street where the maximum height shall be 11 metres, as identified in Schedule H2.
3.9.2 Northern Character Area
The predominant land use designation in the Northern Character Area is Apartment Neighbourhood, as identified in Schedule H1. This designation permits apartment buildings and townhouses as well as public open spaces. Small-scale, neighbourhood-oriented commercial uses are also permitted. Non-residential uses are restricted to the first two floors of a building and cannot occupy more than 50% of its gross floor area in R4 and R5 zoned areas. [Amendment #125, July 17, 2013]
The portions of Bank Street and Elgin Street in the Northern Character Area are considered Traditional Mainstreets. Buildings fronting these streets shall have active uses such as retail on the ground floor fronting the street and maintain a continuous streetwall. Retail shall also be permitted on the second floor; otherwise, upper floors shall be occupied by residential or office uses.
Buildings of varying heights shall be encouraged in the Northern Character Area. The maximum heights, identified in Schedule H2, are intended to achieve a transition to the mid-rise and low-rise areas to the south. Proposals for development in the Northern Character Area shall be guided by the Built Form Guidelines in the Centretown CDP. These guidelines, together with other applicable Council approved Design Guidelines, provide the framework to ensure better quality architecture, appropriate building design and the creation of a positive sense of place in Centretown. The guidelines are meant to be general and may not apply equally in all circumstances. The site context may inform the application of, and the emphasis on, the various guidelines. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
3.9.3 Southern Character Area
The predominant land use designation in the Southern Character Area is Catherine Street Mixed Use, as identified in Schedule H1. This is a special mixed use designation that recognizes the wide variety of uses that are appropriate in the area. The intent is to maintain employment uses in the area while encouraging infill and high rise redevelopment that provides a buffer between the Queensway and the established neighbourhoods to the north. Permitted uses shall include apartment buildings, townhouses, offices, small-scale and large-format retail, hotels, bulk good outlets, wholesale operations and other commercial operations that serve the needs of travellers, commuters and Centretown residents.
Retail uses shall be oriented to Catherine Street to encourage pedestrian activity. Parking for retail generally shall be located at the rear of buildings and shall not be located in the front.
Buildings of varying heights shall be encouraged in the Southern Character Area. The maximum heights, identified in Schedule H2, are intended to achieve a transition to the mid-rise and low-rise areas to the north. Proposals for development in the Southern Character Area shall be guided by the Built Form Guidelines in the Centretown CDP. These guidelines, together with other applicable Council approved Design Guidelines, provide the framework to ensure better quality architecture, appropriate building design and the creation of a positive sense of place in Centretown. The guidelines are meant to be general and may not apply equally in all circumstances. The site context may inform the application of, and the emphasis on, the various guidelines. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
3.9.4 Central Character Area
Consistent with the eclectic nature of the Central Character Area, it comprises several land use designations, as identified in Schedule H1, including the following mixed use designations:
- Traditional Mainstreet – This applies to the properties fronting Bank Street, Elgin Street and a portion of Somerset Street, where active uses such as retail shall be required on the ground floors of buildings fronting the street and a continuous streetwall shall be maintained. Retail shall also be permitted on the second floor; otherwise, upper floors shall be occupied by residential or office uses. Required parking shall be located at the rear of buildings or underground.
- Secondary Mainstreet – This applies to properties fronting Somerset Street, between O’Connor Street and Elgin Street, where commercial uses in heritage houses and at the base of apartment and office buildings shall be permitted and encouraged. Notwithstanding the presence of commercial uses on Somerset, it should maintain a generally residential character, with buildings set back from the right-of-way and landscaped front yards (or restaurant patios), except where it intersects with Bank and Elgin Streets.
- Residential Mixed Use – This applies to portions of the Central Character Area historically occupied by houses and other low-rise housing forms that have been partially converted to commercial uses and to adjacent neighbouring properties where such conversions are appropriate. Non-residential uses shall be restricted to small-scale commercial uses such as personal services, medical facilities, offices and small-scale institutional uses, such as daycares. Uses such as restaurants, retail stores and retail food stores, more appropriately located on a Traditional of Secondary Mainstreet, will not be permitted, except within Landmark Buildings, as described in Policy 184.108.40.206. Permitted non-residential uses shall be restricted to the first two floors and the basement and shall not occupy more than 50 per cent of the gross floor area of the building, with the exception of those existing buildings containing legally established non-residential uses existing at the date of adoption of Official Plan Amendment 117. The expansion of legally established non-residential uses shall be subject to appropriate limits. The Residential Mixed Use designation also permits detached and semi-detached houses, townhouses and apartment buildings that do not contain non-residential uses. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
The Central Character Area also includes properties designated Residential, where the permitted uses shall be restricted to detached, semi-detached and converted houses, townhouses and low-rise apartment buildings.
A variety of mid-rise and low-rise buildings shall be encouraged in the Central Character Area. Schedule H2 identifies maximum heights. Generally, buildings up to 9 storeys shall be permitted. Where a building greater than 6 storeys is proposed adjacent to a property where the maximum height is 4 storeys or adjacent to significant heritage resources/ streetscapes, a stepping of heights or increased setbacks should be provided to achieve an appropriate transition. Buildings shall be restricted to five storeys along Elgin Street.
Proposals for development in the Central Character Area shall be guided by the Built Form Guidelines in the Centretown CDP. The guidelines are meant to be general and may not apply equally in all circumstances. The site context of the provision of a public benefit (e.g. a small moment) may inform the application of, and the emphasis on, the various guidelines. Where a high-rise building is introduced in the Central Character Area, provisions described in Section 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 above shall apply. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
3.9.5 General Policies
Centretown is home to a range of public and institutional uses, including schools, parks, museums, public utility installations, municipal facilities, community resource and health facilities, and places of worship. Schedule H1 identifies Public/Institutional Areas, where such uses exist and will continue to be permitted.
Schedule H1 identifies the locations of existing and proposed open spaces. Parks and other public open spaces shall also be permitted in all other land use areas in Centretown. A range of community, cultural and recreational facilities shall be permitted in parks and open spaces.
The implementing zoning by-law shall establish appropriate maximum building heights within the ranges shown on Schedule H2. These maximum building heights are intended to help ensure compatibility between existing buildings and new development and between areas of different building heights, which together with other applicable zoning provisions ensure new development achieves an appropriate built form transition to adjacent areas of lower height. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
267 O’ Connor Street is a significant site strategically located along O’Connor Street amongst sites developed with buildings of various character and height within the Residential Mixed Use designation of the Central Character Area. Given its location, context, size and current development conditions comprising a single use non-residential building with extensive surface parking and having frontage on three public streets, redevelopment of the site is encouraged. Such development could make a significant contribution to improving the Central Character Area and O’Connor Street and to significantly improving the area’s public realm. Such development is encouraged to include the provision of open space, a key objective of this Secondary Plan for this part of Centretown. The determination of the nature and form of development that is consistent with the opportunity and potential exhibited by the site shall be determined through a site specific re-zoning process and be subject to a specialized design review process within the framework of the City’s Urban Design Review Panel. Accordingly, to provide for flexibility in determining an appropriate development, and recognizing the varied context of the site where buildings of various styles and heights are located, the final building height that may be determined through the site specific rezoning will be permitted to exceed the 9 storey height limit identified on Schedule H2, while providing for an appropriate building height and mass in order to create a positive street relationship as well as ensure compatibility with surrounding properties, provided an appropriate publicly accessible private open space is included. Any proposal for a building height that would be permitted within the framework of the Landmark Building policies of this Secondary Plan will be subject to the policies set out for Landmark Buildings. . [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
Notwithstanding Section 22.214.171.124(c), small retail, cafes and restaurants will be permitted on the first two floors and basement. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
Where the existing maximum building heights in the Zoning By-law are lower than those shown on Schedule H2, any increase in height and/or density deemed suitable by the City through a rezoning process will be subject to Section 37 of the Planning Act in accordance with the Council-approved Section 37 Guidelines and Policy 8 in Section 5.2.1 of the Official Plan. [Amendment #125, July 17, 2013]
As a mixed-use, inner city community in the nation’s capital, Centretown may be an appropriate location for developments that, through their design and public uses, establish true civic or national landmarks. “Landmark Buildings” are those that make both significant and exceptional contributions to the public realm and overall identity of Centretown. They combine iconic architecture, extraordinary site design and a unique civic or national function to create a distinctive place that invites visitors to experience its qualities. Both the building and its landscape should be appreciated as much for their beauty as for their utility. While Landmark Buildings must respect the form and character of their surroundings, they may depart from the built form parameters established for Centretown, but in this regard they will not set precedents for other development, and to be different they must be special. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
Notwithstanding the build form policies of this Plan, including the height limits in Schedule H2, where high-rise and mid-rise buildings are permitted in the Northern, Central and Southern Character Areas, the City may permit Landmark Buildings that do not conform to the built form policies and height limits but only under very specific circumstances as described below. Landmark Buildings shall: [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
- Only be permitted on large corner lots with frontage on three streets, except in the Southern Character Area, where frontage on two streets is required;
- Not be permitted in Residential, Traditional or Secondary Mainstreet designations;
- In the Residential Mixed Use designation, only be considered on properties fronting O’Connor, Metcalfe and Kent Streets and only if the proposed development, along with any park/public open space component, is massed to those streets;
- Provide and deliver a significant, publicly accessible and publicly owned open space and/or a significant public institutional use, such as a cultural or community facility, on the site. Where an institutional use is not proposed, the open space shall comprise a contiguous area that is a minimum of approximately 40% of the area of the subject site and have frontage on at least two streets;
- Not result in a new net shadow impact on an existing public open space greater than that which would be created by the base height condition;
- Conform to the built form policies of this Plan applicable to tall buildings (126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52) where the landmark includes a tall building element for residential uses incorporated into the design of a landmark building and only with respect to such uses; [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
- Not require the demolition of a designated heritage building and shall respect the cultural heritage value of the site and its setting through the retention of its significant heritage resources;
- Demonstrate leadership and advances in sustainable design and energy efficiency;
- Be subject to an architectural design competition that includes City representation on the selection jury and/or, at the City’s discretion, be subject to the City’s specialized design review process within the framework of the Urban Design Review Panel, process to exercise a detailed peer review of landmark buildings as per Policy 184.108.40.206; [Amendment #125, July 17, 2013] [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
- Be subject to the provisions of Section 37 of the Planning Act and in accordance with the Council-approved Section 37 Guidelines for determining value uplift, and as per Policy 220.127.116.11 with the public open space or institution taken into account when determining the appropriate Section 37 community benefit ; [Amendment #125, July 17, 2013] [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
- Fully respect the requirements of the Visual Integrity and Symbolic Primacy of the Parliament Buildings and Other National Symbols guidelines related to building height restrictions; and. . [Amendment #125, July 17, 2013] [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
- Not exceed a height of 27 storeys. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
This provision is not intended to introduce tall buildings that are out of scale with their planned surroundings without a specific review and analysis of the impacts and implications. The specific context of the location of the proposal will form part of this review and be taken into account when determining building massing, building heights and the relationship of the project features to the streets. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
Prior to considering a proposal for a Landmark Building in Centretown, a formal and rigorous application and review process that includes public consultation shall be developed for consideration by the appropriate standing committee of Council and shall be adopted by Council. [Amendments #117 and #125, OMB Order File #PL130619, September 30, 2016]
To maintain attractive and pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, the impact of off-street parking shall be minimized in Centretown. In designated Residential areas and Residential Mixed Use areas, front yard parking for existing houses and apartment buildings shall be discouraged and generally shall not occupy the front yard beyond an existing driveway. Parking for new buildings in these areas shall be located at the rear of the building. In all other land use areas, parking for apartment buildings, office buildings and mixed-use buildings generally shall be located at the rear of the building or underground.
In addition to conforming to the built form policies of this section, all new development in Centretown shall respect the guidelines in Sections 6.2-6.4 of the Centretown CDP.