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Part 3 - The Planning Saga - Episode 2

Posted by Calvinmiddle , 05 June 2014 · 2,070 views

We took some time to consider things after the appeal decision can in and then the planning consultant contacted us with an idea. After reading of the reasons for refuse of the appeal he had had an idea of an all or nothing last attempt. I wrote to 10-12 other planning consultants to see if they thought it had merit and to ensure I wasn’t being taken for a ride.

Some said they wouldn’t give me an option unless I paid them, some said I didn’t have a hope but they were willing to work with me on it and one actually called me to discuss.

After discussing the idea with that planning consultant he concluded that it was a long shot but thought it was the only option open to me. He impressed me more than the original planning consultant who I thought was a tad too timid – especially as I had taken the view that planning was essentially a battle and you had to be forceful to get what you wanted, so we worked on the plan and then submitted it to the council.

“But what was the plan” I heard you ask. Well we knew we didn’t have a hope of another direct planning application as the Planning Inspector said that the pattern of development for the area was for houses coming off the street and that a house in the back garden would be in conflict with that. So we submitted an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Works for an 85m2 outbuilding consisting of a double garage, a playroom and an office.

After we got this we applied for a 2 bed bungalow the same size, layout and location. The council wrote to us two days before the decision due date asking for an extension of three weeks so it could go to committee as there were a lot of objections and they were recommending it for refusal, we didn’t reply and when the decision date came we appealed on the basis or non-determination.

We won on appeal and were even awarded costs as the Planning Inspector ruled they had acted unreasonably. We followed this up with an application for 100m2 that kept the basic space and ridge height and this was approved 11-1 in committee. Then in January of this year we submitted a complete redesign for a 120m2 modern styled 2 bed single level dwelling (I hate the word bungalow – too many connotations) that kept the ridge height the same as the approved dwellings. This was approved unanimously in the planning committee in March of this year although it took under the start of May to issue me the approval due to some issues with the S106 Agreement.

So please have a look at the plans below which is what we have permission to build, it has only taken 4 years, 5 applications and 2 appeals to get this :D

Site Plan
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House Plans
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House Evelavtions
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House Sections
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05 Jun 2014 12:42 PM
Well done you!

Bloody planning process. Our notice periods ends tomorrow, and our objection-free run has just ended with the submission of an objection by our local town council.

So pleased you got what you wanted in the end. The result will taste all the sweeter for the delay and pain!

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05 Jun 2014 12:59 PM
Our Town Council is the bane I my life, made worse as their offices are also a neighbouring building. I have never met a bunch of self important, self absorbed people in my life.
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05 Jun 2014 01:03 PM
Be interested to hear what people think of the building as I designed it myself with a bit of input from our designer. I know the planning committee didn't like it, they joked about not being allowed to refuse applications they don't like the design of, but they all seem to believe house design finished at the death of Queen Victoria and I believe a house should reflect the era it is build it.
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Great news - we have been recommended a similar strategy by our planning consultant should we ever wish to build at the back of our plot in Berkshire - great to hear that it actually works :) Getting planning for the replacement dwelling at the front has been painful enough - I really must get my finger out and do my own introduction...

And what is it with all of us NI boys on this forum?
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05 Jun 2014 02:06 PM
Yes, I agree with houses reflecting their era.

It annoys me that the council wants me to basically build a pastiche of a 1930s house (or worse, a late 1950s house like some of those at my end of the street). "Modernist" architecture predates even the 1930s houses!

Judging by the quality of some of the hideous designs that have sailed through our local planning department without comment or objection, the taste of planners clearly can't be trusted. FWIW, I really like what you've done. Bully for you building something other than a boring box!

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What an interesting tale. and well done to your consultant for dreaming up that strategy. I thought a certificate of lawfulness was regularising a situation that had existed, i.e an existing building, so I would never have thought of that as an approach to getting permission for a garden outbuilding.

And I have to say I am surprised you did get permission for "back building" like that.

My only comments on the house, which are probably unavoidable due to the location and constraints, is you have put your living room on the north facing side of the house with the only window looking north. I appreciate it looks out over your entrance, but personally I find a north facing living room depressing.
What boundary is there to the south, and would a living room along the south wall work? or would it just be looking out at a tall hedge? If not at least put a window in the east wall of the living room for some morning sun, and a window in the west wall of the kitchen to get some evening sun.
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05 Jun 2014 05:15 PM
ProDave thanks for the comments

I now know that there are two types of certificate of lawful development, one saying what you have built doesn't need planning, and one saying that what you want to build doesn't need planning. We used the latter to be a fallback position in the planning application.

Regarding the layout it's not ideal by any stretch of the imagination but I think it's best use of the site. The southern boudary is only 1750mm from house so there would be nothing to look at but a fence. The eastern side of the living room is in line where next door have a trampoline so don't want the living room to be looked in, or us look out on their garden - that's what we have to put up with at the moment from their house and it makes you free on shown when you are in your garden.
The western side is a public footpath with a big street light on it, so any windows on that side would suffer from noise and light pollution.

We have tried to overcome the northern aspect by introducing the clerestory windows - the idea being that light coming in them will hit the vertical part of the bulkhead ceiling of the kitchen and bounce into the room.

It is worth noting that where we live on the edge of the East of England region that we get more sun and less rain than the UK average - and I lot less rain and more sun than I'm used to coming from NI. Currently the southern facing living room of the existing house gets too hot after a couple of hours of sun shining on the patio windows, and that house has no wall insulation and the walls are still cold, it is all from solar gain through the window. I'd hate to think what the heat gain would be if the house had decent insulation.
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Calvinmiddle, on 05 June 2014 - 05:15 PM, said:

We have tried to overcome the northern aspect by introducing the clerestory windows - the idea being that light coming in them will hit the vertical part of the bulkhead ceiling of the kitchen and bounce into the room.

I can confirm that this works very well indeed on the North-facing clerestory windows I've fitted. These face directly on to a 3m high, cream rendered, retaining wall, but at this time of the year there is a fair bit of sunlight that comes over the ridge of the house and reflects off the wall into the windows. I'm very pleasantly surprised at how effective these high level windows are at getting light into these rooms.
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Very interesting and congratulations on getting this far. I agree that it is an ideal site for a dwelling that close to a town centre.

I like shallow monopitch roofs - they remind me of 1930s California ranch-style bungalows or those successful small post-war public buildings (schools, community centres etc) in this country.

I like the balance of the rooms. Though I understand that you are constrained I'm not *that* convinced by the site layout. Problems I think I see:

1 - 35% of your entire main plot (~100sqm from ~12x25m) seems too much to be given over to your car park, which is very obviously separated from the rest of your plot and is the main outlook of your habitable rooms.
2 - I can't see enough usable private outdoor amenity space. Where will you sit with your cocktails and friends on a summer afternoon? A shaded north-facing patio next to a 3.5m wall may not be the place.
3 - The general feel I get is that you have very slightly retreated inside the walls of your bungalow to avoid overlooking, when that can perhaps be managed at the boundaries. eg 2m fence and a small tree to deal with the trampoline.
4 - Is there enough storage space?

I'd mainly agree with pro-Dave and I'd say that the ideal would be to bully planning some more, turn it round, move it about 7m forward, and create a private S-facing courtyard garden at the back as the focus. I think that would be doable, but I have a few ideas to raise in a further comment that may be practical without reopening the planning can of worms.

Not directly relevant, but the photo below is one simple solution to patio window overheat. It was put up in 1970 as my father's architectural studio, converted later (another planning saga!), and people who live there say it works very well. That window is 2mx4m. It is now an 80sqm 2-bed on a 200sqm site.


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Some suggestions.

1 - Parking and Amenity Spaces

3 parking spaces for a 2 bed just off the town centre seems to be overkill. Will they let you go to two? Or can you incorporate one into your patio (eg pave it differently and use planters later)? Or turn at least one into a car port or garage (=shed or workshop later)?

My other suggestion would be two spaces where your turning head is but closer to the front house wall, and to put the turning head in the middle or far spaces of the three, which would consolidate your amenity space into more usable chunks.

2 - Privacy etc

Boundaries have been mentioned, but can you put in a permanent privacy block on the road side while you still control the old house? That could be a hedge, but I think I'd suggest putting a garden office right at the bottom of the truncated site (say 3m x 9m, 3.9m high) under PD. I would then use it as a site office/storage for the new build to keep the existing house less disturbed, and to save £1-2k on hiring a portaloo.

At the end it would either be a home office to upgrade the old house, or - and I think this is the way - build it facing the new bungalow and add it to your new plot just before you sell the old one. That way you get a summerhouse/office, garden storage, and a south facing suntrap amenity area completely blocked from the old house.

What about making the parking space at the end into an effective patio area, which would give a good S-facing garden space next to your garden building?

3 - Storage

Can you put a loft storage area into the high bit of your monopitch roof over part of the hall and that enclosed room? It seems to have 1.1-1.2m of height available over a decent area.

Is there potential to use roof windows to add light? Our bungalow above has 4 of them and the effect on increasing perceived space is dramatic. It is built to the site boundary right along the back, so needs it.

4 - Total wildcard but can you divert that footpath to gain the wedge inside your garden, since you seem to own the ground?

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18 Jun 2014 02:05 PM

Thanks for comments, some good ideas there, especially the idea about the loft storage area, will have to see what that looks like when the shell is up.

Regarding the park/amenity space the drawings are a bit misleading, and no we don't need parking for 3 cars for a 2 bed house - it was just the designer trying to prove a point I think. Parking for a 2 bed house in my LA was one but I think they have since changed it to two.

However the area showing the two cars parked is grass, with a grass reinforcment mesh included (like this http://www.grassform...sprotecta-mesh/) as the planners wanted a turning circle for a ambulance sized vechicle so it didn't have to reverse out to the parking area at the front of the existing house to turn to be able to leave the plot in a forward gear.

We don't envision using the grass area for parking, we have one car so it will be parked at the end of the drive and if parking is needed for a second car then it is able to park near the boundary with the existing house as this will still give enough room for the cars to be able to turn. So the area showing the two cars parked will be using for sitting out and should get the afternoon sun.

The footpath will be moved to the edge of the boundary - not diverted as the Legal Line on the councils definite map shows it to be straight off the high street and my Deeds show it to be on the edge of the property boundary. A took a couple of years of discussion with the councils Right of Way team to get them to agree that it could be moved, then enter the Town Council inisting that they own the land up to the edge of the footpath and that my boundary stops at the edge of the footpath. Finally resolved by using the RICS Neighbour Dispute Service so means we will have access right round the building - which is what I thought would happen but for planning purposes and to hedge bets we showed the footpath in it's current position fully expecting it to be moved.
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This bungalow is quite an interesting comparison with the Jacobs House, the first Frank Lloyd Wright "Usonian" house from 1935-ish.

The size is almost identical, as is the "combined live/cook space plus bedrooms" layout. He also does clerestory and a "wall of glass doors", and ufh.

http://www.usonia1.com/02_desc.html and other pages.
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