Planning consent for an oak frame holiday home in North Wales

Written by John Williams – a Regional Architectural Designer within our Architectural Design team


A seaside location and a harbour view make for a pretty enviable location to build in. The rhythm of the changing tides, the reflection of sunlight on the water, and the movement of boats combine to create a picturesque scene that always captivates.

When the opportunity arose to buy an uninspiring bungalow, with planning permission approved for its replacement (in a location just metres from the beach in the popular North Wales resort of Abersoch), Peter and Jan couldn’t resist. Having spent many years visiting and staying near to this pretty town, the site offered them the chance to create a unique holiday home very close to its centre, but still with those all-important views.

Although the approved drawings they inherited with the site didn’t match Peter and Jan’s design brief and vision for their project, what they did do was establish a number of very positive principals: the replacement of a bungalow with a two storey house; the repositioning of the building on the site up to the ‘building line’ created by the neighbouring properties; and the addition of a separate garage at a lower level with a terraced garden on top.

Before starting on the design work, we met with Peter and Jan in Abersoch as well as at our Herefordshire show home, The Woodhouse, to review both opportunities and the constraints of their site. As the designer, these meetings, conversations and site visits are vital, helping to capture not only the key elements of a client’s design brief but also the opportunities that can help to bring delight to a scheme.

Having deliberated over drawings and sketched out ideas, it’s always with some anticipation that I wait for the client’s reaction to the first set of draft plans. I was, of course, delighted when Peter and Jan sent a swift response to say they were happy with what I had suggested.

A drawing to show the north and west elevations of Peter and Jan's home, designed by John Williams

While starting afresh with the couple’s design allowed us to explore new opportunities, we were aware the principals approved in an earlier scheme been hard-won. With this in mind, the changes we suggested were carefully justified; a modest increase to the overall roof-height could be achieved with no negative impact, if we revised the layout of gables, moving them away from positions close to neighbouring boundaries. Large areas of glazing could also be incorporated by carefully choosing positions and using designs that didn’t impact on neighbourly privacy.


The architectural design process

Set in a row of conventional white rendered bungalows and houses, Peter and Jan’s plot slopes steeply uphill from the road that separates it from the sea. The design for the couple’s new oak frame home sits in an elevated position two-thirds of the way into the site, where it gains the best views of the bay and coastline beyond. With the driveway and garage to the north, on the south side is a modestly proportioned private garden, terraced as it steps up towards the site boundary. Over the garage on the north side, accessed from the main living room, is a large terrace bordered by a cantilevered glass handrail, ensuring uninterrupted views to the sea.

For Peter and Jan, it was important for their new home to have a bright, welcoming and generous feel, perfect for relaxed family holidays as well as partying with friends. To comply with the planning constraints, they chose to clad the house externally with a mixture of white render and timber boarding beneath slate roofing. Internally, they wanted a post and beam oak frame to create impact, incorporating features such as vaulted ceilings, galleried landings and a defined, open-plan layout.

Glazing was obviously key in helping to capture the sea views. These were only available from the north side of Peter and Jan’s home, so it was also important to bring sunlight in from the south. By designing an open-plan layout to their new living area, and combining this with a vaulted entrance hall and kitchen area and two storey windows and rooflights on the south side of their home, dynamic sunlight can penetrate right across the ground floor of the building.

As well as a master bedroom that rightly commands the best views through its glazed Juliet balcony, the property also contains four further well-proportioned bedrooms. Two bedrooms are located on the ground floor, and along with the master bedroom, two other bedrooms can be found on the first floor, both served by en-suites as well as a family bathroom.

This drawing captures the vision for the south and east elevations

The planning application process

A process of pre-application discussion with the local planning department, based upon draft drawings, ensured we had informal support for our proposals before progressing to the full application stage. This provides a degree of reassurance, but it is still important to fully justify the new proposals in the context of the planning policy and its impact within the site and wider landscape. Thankfully, no unforeseen problems arose through the application and planning permission was promptly granted.

Abersoch stretches around the bay with houses all along the coastline. Not only does this mean that many people are able to look out on sea views, but also that the houses themselves form part of the landscape over which everybody looks. Nestled within the white rendered houses along the south side of the bay, Peter and Jan’s oak framed home has become an elegant landmark that might just catch the admiring eye of other residents and holiday-makers as they look out to sea!


Would you like to learn more about Peter and Jan’s home building journey? Please see a link to their case study below.

Architecture, Contemporary home
10 Jan 2020

A stunning oak frame holiday home in North Wales

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