Planning consent for a barn-style home in the heart of the New Forest

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

 

A beautiful countryside location would probably be high on the list for many people when first considering a self-build project. Finding somewhere you can ‘get away from it all’ to enjoy the peace, views, space and fresh air are just a few reasons why living rurally has its attractions. With this in mind, it’s important to note that such landscapes can have certain restrictions placed on them, which can sometimes make it difficult if you’re hoping to gain planning permission to build your dream home.

Derek and Liz’ site is located in such a beautiful setting in rural Hampshire. However, not only is it set in true open countryside (one of the most protected designations set out in planning policies) but it is also in an area designated as ‘Ancient Forest Farmlands’ within the New Forest National Park; which also happens to be in a Conservation Area!

As is often the way, Derek and Liz had bought their plot with a house already on it: a modest-sized bungalow with an attached garage. The bungalow was functional but uninspiring; it was disconnected from the surrounding grounds (set in one corner of the large plot) and did not take any advantage of the fantastic views available in all directions. So, the proposal was to gain approval to build a new oak frame house with a much more sympathetic character and appearance, in comparison to the existing suburban-style brick bungalow it would replace.

 

The design process

From our first on-site meeting with Derek and Liz, it was clear their new home needed to be relocated to a more central position on the plot. It was important it would gain the best views, take the most advantage of the sunlight, and would be closer to an existing outbuilding on the plot.

Although the whole site had been previously classified as domestic, the local authority planning policies for replacement dwellings in such sensitive sites were extremely restrictive, preferring any new buildings to be positioned broadly in the same position as that which they replaced. These policies also placed very precise limits on any increase in size available, as well as emphasising the need for considerate and appropriate design solutions that were in-keeping with the local area.

A post and beam frame was chosen to base the barn-style design on

Given all of these potential issues, we advised Derek and Liz that we should take the time to submit an early draft of our proposals for their self-build project to the Council for pre-application advice, to try and avoid any unforeseen issues arising when it came to their planning application.

The design for their home was developed around a post and beam internal oak frame, which would create the structure for a barn-style building; with two bedrooms and bathrooms on the first floor, using roof lights rather than cottage-style dormer windows. Clad externally with timber weatherboarding over a brick plinth, Derek and Liz’ new oak frame home was intended to sit harmoniously beside the adjacent existing barn. An open-plan layout on the ground floor incorporating the kitchen, dining and living rooms was devised to increase the sense of space in this relatively modest-sized area.

For additional storage, Derek and Liz chose to incorporate a basement into their oak frame home design. Fortunately, this was not included in the area or volume limits set by the Council.

Along with the house plans themselves, Derek and Liz had ideas for landscaping their grounds which included installing a wildlife pond, creating outdoor sitting areas, paths leading to site features (such as the stream running along their northern boundary), and increasing the number of ornamental and fruit trees on their site. To ensure the house visually and practically connected with the gardens and land around, it was very important to include generous areas of glazing in their design.

Natural light floods into Derek and Liz' home, and stunning views can be appreciated

The planning application process

We were armed with a carefully worded letter from the Council in response to our pre-application enquiry. It supported the replacement principal (the approach taken to the design) but stressed the precise limits on any increase in size, and their concern about moving the position of Derek and Liz’ new oak frame dwelling. So, we set about putting together the full planning application, making our case as strongly as possible.

The planning process, of course, had its twists and turns! Having provided support to the design approach at the pre-application stage, we suddenly found they no longer felt a barn-style building was appropriate, forgetting their earlier advice. After alerting them to this inconsistency, this cause for concern was resolved, only for the matter of the re-siting of the house to take its place as a possible reason for refusal. The production of 3D computer model images of the existing and proposed houses, and combining these with views towards the site from the surrounding roads (using photomontages), enabled us to provide the necessary reassurances. This resulted in planning approval, to the delight of all of us!

 

A willingness to understand and accept the restrictions of the planning policies, along with patience and perseverance to fight for the features of the scheme that really mattered, has given Derek and Liz the chance to make their mark in this beautiful rural landscape with a building that’s sympathetic to its surroundings. We’re thrilled they’re able to enjoy all the delights of the countryside that drew them there in the first place: images of their dream home can be viewed in the gallery below.