Planning consent for an oak frame home in rural Buckinghamshire

Written by Tim Crump – our Managing Director

 

Recognising the potential of the plot

Local to the area, Mark and Janine purchased their plot in rural Buckinghamshire in spring 2010, with the intention of replacing the existing dwelling with a traditional style home. The couple wanted to build a one and a half storey house which would make better use of their site and be more pragmatic to their living requirements.

We had the pleasure of supporting Mark and Janine with renovations to their previous home, so we were delighted to hear they were eager to design and construct their dream home.

David Grey, our Sales Director, introduced Mark and Janine to Darren Blackwell, one of our Regional Architectural Designers. Darren worked with the couple to bring their plans for their new oak frame home to life.

 

The architectural design process

Set within a 0.4ha site which was surrounded by mature evergreens, the proposal for Mark and Janine’s home was to improve on the existing dwelling by orientating rooms to receive maximum daylight while creating a better flow between the internal spaces. The materiality of the proposal was considerate of the site’s surroundings, and we incorporated a palette of natural materials, such as exposed oak with render panels above a faced brickwork plinth.

After making minor amendments to the initial drawings, Mark and Janine agreed on a scheme to submit for pre-application consultation. The response from the Council was largely positive; however, we had to work with the constraint of the proposal’s location within the green belt, conforming to local planning policy which allowed a maximum of 50% increase in floor area over the existing gross floor area. Additionally, the Council recommended an arboricultural report should be undertaken due to the proximity of surrounding trees to the proposal.

We re-evaluated Mark and Janine’s scheme slightly, working with them and taking into consideration the points raised by the Council, including the introduction of a “dog-leg” to ensure maximum daylight and an aspect over the south-facing garden.

Mark and Janine were happy with the design, so a full planning application was submitted. This included proposal drawings, the arboricultural report and a design and access statement which detailed the design process and how it addressed the relevant planning policies.

The original sketch of the house featuring the northeast elevation

The planning application process

Mark and Janine’s application progressed through the planning process in a period of eight weeks, receiving positive feedback from the case officer and letters of support from the local community. That was until the eleventh hour, when the Council decided the proposal did in fact exceed the 50% allowable increase in floor area, as their calculations had included the vaulted area within the galleried landing as usable floor space. As a result, we were tasked with reducing the overall floor area of the proposal without inhibiting the nature of the oak frame house design. Added to this, we were given until the following morning to submit revised drawings; short notice to say the least!

Rather than reducing the size of the vaulted area, which would have impaired the character of Mark and Janine’s entrance hall, we decided the best course of action would be to subtly reduce the lengths of the north to east and south to west wings. This meant the flow of the internal layout remained unchanged, and only a minimal amount of floor area was lost in individual rooms.

The revised drawings were accepted, and Mark and Janine received conditional approval in March 2011. An order was subsequently placed with us for their oak frame, and my colleague Mike commenced with the Building Regulations drawings.

 

What was the outcome of Mark and Janine’s bespoke oak frame build? As you can see from the gallery below, their design is an impressive example of a traditional family home.