The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday approved design guidelines for the redevelopment of Kensington that focus on walkability and increased foliage, after a year of consultation with community leaders and residents.

Development will be pedestrian-oriented, include open space in downtown areas and use a tree canopy along sidewalks, according to the new design guidelines. There also will be buffers between buildings of different heights and uses that will include landscaping and open spaces.

The guidelines will help developers determine what characteristics buildings should have and how new projects should be laid out.

They will be incorporated into the Kensington Sector Plan, which was approved last March. The plan is a 20-year outline for growth within the area, centered around Connecticut and Howard avenues, where planners want to create a town center.

Currently, Kensington is relatively small, with mostly single-family homes, many of which are inside the historic district. The community is also home to many antique and furniture stores.

Michael Brown, planning coordinator with the Planning Department, said staff have worked with city officials and community members for the past year to retain the character of the town.

Other design guidelines include varying height caps, with the highest being at 75 feet, or six stories tall. The plans focus development along Connecticut Avenue, University Boulevard, Howard Avenue and Metropolitan Avenue.

Last March, when the County Council voted 8-1 to approve the plan, some residents said it was too dense for the town.

Councilman Marc Elrich, D-at large, was the only council member to vote against it, saying he didn't think Kensington could support an influx of housing units within the downtown.

At least 1,000 units would be introduced into the community.

Planning Board Chairwoman Francoise Carrier said she was pleased with the thoroughness of the guidelines and said the design will fit nicely into the approved sector plan.

Kensington Town Councilwoman Tracey Furman told the board she supported the plan and urged it to start as soon as possible.

"We hope to get this finalized and completed," she said.