Planning consent for an oak frame family home and garage in Lancashire

Written by Helen Needham – a Chartered Architect and our Architectural Department Manager


In 2017, our teams were introduced to a lovely couple at Build It’s self-build and home renovating show in Manchester. Following this meeting, Craig Holden, one of our Business Development Managers, and I were invited to visit their stunning site in Lancashire.


Recognising the potential of the plot

Our clients’ site offers amazing views within the valley to Pendle Hill and beyond. Set within this vast landscape was a stone farmhouse, which, although tired looking, had some strong original features that could be translated into a new home design, including the rubble stone finish and quoins, and the smooth stone window surrounds.

Walking the ground and seeing the views and opportunities with clients is a vital part of our initial design process, while talking through and listening to their wishes. At the time, our clients were already working with an Architect to build new stables for their horses, however, they really wanted to construct an oak framed home for themselves and decided our teams here at Oakwrights should take the lead on the design.

Together, we began discussing the possibility of re-orienting their house to better capture the views and light throughout the day. Our clients were keen on the idea of every room having a different character, type of space and view; oak frames really lend themselves well to achieving this, and the amazing site gave a marvellous palette to work with!

Behind every finished project is an inspiration design: here is Helen Needham's initial sketch

The architectural design process

It was evident that our clients’ site had the opportunity to house a two storey oak frame home, utilising the natural slope, with a half basement to the rear for views to a new pond. Once back in our Herefordshire offices, I began sketching a main three bay house design, with a central entrance hall, and projecting feature gables. The concept would have a traditional style to the front, opening up to the rear views using face glazing. In addition, my initial thoughts were to place an oak frame two/three bay garage to the west of the site upon entry from our clients’ driveway, with a car port adjoining the house to the east.

Once inside, I envisaged an open-plan kitchen with steps down to a vaulted dining space to the east and suggested our clients’ study and living room would be located to the west, along with a further angled snug, designed in a more contemporary style. Moreover, a good-sized dog/boot/utility room with a side entrance was essential for our clients and their country lifestyle.

A drawing to show the front elevation of our clients' home, designed by Helen Needham and David Bryan

Within my preliminary notes to our clients, I explained that the east and west side gables would be of slightly different proportions, providing character, especially in the ridge line above when the elevations develop. The kitchen would also be to the east side to take advantage of the morning sun. Upstairs, my initial sketch showed three main bedrooms, with a further guest bedroom to the west over the garage. There would be a double-height void above the main entrance hall to take in the vaulted ceiling. This developed by locating the four bedrooms within each of the H-shaped plan.

The location for this new home design is in an exposed position within the valley, and our clients mentioned they experience some bad weather and hard prevailing winds, especially in the wintertime. This aspect was strongly considered within the form of their new oak frame building and, for example, where face glazing and doors leading outside were positioned.

My colleague and Architectural Designer, David Bryan, developed the above home design concept into a 3D SketchUp model, adding his own design flair and consideration of the building mass and elevation proportions. In terms of the material palette, stone was the predominant material used, with rendered areas to add further character. As we worked with our clients and got to know their likes and dislikes, plans naturally evolved, while retaining the vision for the original design concept.

Interestingly, the orientation of our clients’ new home, location of their garage, and basement design especially developed. This was largely due to the further consideration of the site slopes in David’s 3D model, and in close connection with our clients’ wishes for views and how they would use the spaces. This process took place alongside our in-house frame and encapsulation designer’s guidance, and in this case, a specialist basement supplier at the early stages too. Our clients’ basement now houses their fabulous ‘gin palace:’ a fun and relaxing retreat space.

This drawing captures the vision for the rear elevation

The planning application process

Although our teams here at Oakwrights are experienced with working on sensitive sites and planning applications, this submission was carried out by an independent planning consultant, as they already had liaised with the planners for this site and had been involved in the overall site masterplan.

Our clients’ plot is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and green belt within Ribble Valley Borough Council, and a public footpath also leads past their site. We knew that a sympathetic style, mass, form, materials and views into the site would be of prime importance, and so we ensured we overlapped the form of the existing house and outbuildings which helped reassure the Council in planning terms. The house is approx. 400sqm which was an uplift to the existing property but was reasonable in planning terms given the footprint of the existing farmhouse and outbuildings to be replaced. Indeed, our energy-efficient system, comprising our WrightWall encapsulation panels, helped to reassure the Council of the green agenda and long-life span for the oak framed buildings, all achieving a planning approval.

Once approved, Lee Wilson, an Architectural Technician with our in-house Architectural Design team, produced the Building Regulations drawings and predicted Energy (SAP) calculations, alongside the specialist frame and WrightWall encapsulation design, created by Barbara Bajena, one of our Frame Designers.

Our clients became regulars at various Homebuilding & Renovation and Build It shows, and also attended some of our open days at our clients’ oak frame homes, giving them great inspiration for different products and to share build and design tips they had used along the way. It was exciting to see our clients purchase the stone flooring for their home at a show in Harrogate, knowing how well the specification they had chosen would suit this style, and further develop the vision for their interior design.

Once our site teams had erected the dry house shell on-site, our clients project managed the rest of their build, kindly emailing through various progress photographs as the build unfolded, and we could see more wonderful interior and exterior design choices. It is always lovely to maintain this contact with our clients and see their dream homes come to life. This oak frame project is another in-house home design which we are extremely proud of, and indeed a family home which will be loved for many years to come.


The team behind the design of this oak frame project:

  • Business Development Manager: Craig Holden
  • Architectural design: Helen Needham and David Bryan
  • Planning: an independent consultant
  • Building Regulations: Lee Wilson
  • Frame and encapsulation design: Barbara Bajena
  • Estimating: Anna Davies-Wood
  • Project Manager: Tim Lindup
  • CGIs: David Bowes


Please note: the above planning consent story was written when this oak frame home was under construction on-site.