Planning consent for a contemporary eco-home in Yorkshire

Written by Andrew Yeats – a Chartered Architect at Eco Arc


The architectural design process

It was a stipulation of Dr Garnett’s that his home would not compromise between the most ecologically friendly design and the convenience of conventional modern living; it was essential to achieve the highest standards in both areas.

The Garnett’s home is not just designed for the couples needs at their current stage of life, but for all the stages of their lifecycle. There was to be adequate space for living, playing, food production, laundry etc., in an environment to be heated and ventilated throughout the day and night at minimal financial and environmental cost. They wanted to future-proof their downstairs floorplan to allow for disabled living with minimal adaptation; once again with affordable 24/7 heating and ventilation. Between these extremes, we also worked with the Garnetts to consider opportunities for low energy sustainable living supported by design features such as bicycle parking and access to local amenities by foot and bicycle. Even then, from the outset, the couple were planning for a vegetable garden on-site that would reduce the need for bought produce and reduce the travel miles of the produce consumed.

Much conventional traditional housing in the UK is very poorly designed in terms of energy conservation and ecological awareness. Most houses are poorly insulated and consume unnecessarily high levels of energy (usually from non-renewable sources) and at the same time produce high levels of waste and pollution. Such energy consumption occurs initially when the building is constructed, continues throughout its lifetime (through the fossil fuel resource demands of use, repairs and renewals) and extends beyond its removal because its demolition wastes then have to be accommodated elsewhere.

Here is the left elevation sketch of the Garnett's home, designed by Andrew Yeats

The planning application process

For Dr Garnett’s oak frame Passive House project, we proposed a sustainable approach in line with many of the Scarborough Borough Council policies relating to physical, social, economic and sustainability issues. On a broader level, the proposals for the project also supported several other policies and statements including the following:

  • The UK Government’s ‘Communities and Local Government’ national planning guidance for sustainable development
  • The UK Government’s commitment under the Kyoto Protocol and additional target to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% of the 1990 level by 2012
  • The Royal Commission on Environment Pollution recommendation to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% of the 1990 level by 2050
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientific assessment and recommendations to act
  • The UK Government’s ‘Code for Sustainable Homes ‘recommendations for Level 6 carbon neutral homes.

The proposed house needed to be a low carbon, eco-dwelling within a traditionally scaled envelope. It needed to be a low embodied energy, super-insulated, Passive House construction. Please click here to learn more about Passivhaus (Passive House) design. Most of the space heating was to be from passive solar gain, heat generated by the occupants, domestic electrical appliances and heat recovered from the mechanical ventilation system.

Resources consumed in and during construction were vigorously considered and used as efficiently as possible so that the resource could be reused or recycled without creating carbon emissions, pollution or rubbish. This awareness of the cyclical nature of the eco-systems offered a demonstration of a sustainable way forward in which the couple would live in balance with the natural world.

Planning permission was approved and work began on the construction of the Garnett’s home in March 2016. This joint project between our teams and Eco Arc, was very much led by the vision of the self-builder Dr Garnett, and was completed a year later.


Would you like to learn more about the Garnetts’ home building journey? Please see a link to their case study below.

Contemporary home, Encapsulation
12 Dec 2019

The UK's first oak frame eco-home to meet rigorous Passivhaus stand…

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