A custom build planning consent story from the perspective of Chartered Architect, Craig Alexander

Our Webbs Meadow custom build development within the Herefordshire countryside provides serviced plots with full planning permission, in essence, a ready-to-go package for any aspiring self-builder looking to move to Herefordshire to downsize for their retirement.  Karen and Simon Jones who have purchased the first plot at Webbs Meadow, wanted a comfortable and spacious four-bedroomed home, but based around an efficient and compact footprint to ensure ease of living and cost-effective buildability.  After reviewing the existing design on their chosen plot we worked together, adapting the design so it better suited their preferences and budget.

We were able to provide a streamlined service, integrating design, layout and oak-frame considerations, as well as handling the entire planning process for Karen and Simon, first time self-builders.

Simon and Karen retired from the South East to their custom built oak frame home in Herefordshire

The initial design

The approved design for the plot provided a great layout, but was just a little too large for Karen and Simon’s requirements. Having taken a lot from their visits to our show home, our initial design conversations stemmed around using one of the floorplans from our Woodhouse range (which our show home is based on!). All our ranges have up-to-date costs for the oak frame and encapsulation systems, allowing for initial cost estimates from the off-set. Simon and Karen loved the range so much they decided to base their design on our Derndale home. Meaning they could visualise the spaces and potential layout options with ease.

They felt the ‘Derndale’; a well-proportioned storey-and-a-half design, provided them with a spacious open-plan ground floor layout, sumptuous master suite and three double bedrooms.

However, my architectural appraisal of the site highlighted that the views, access and orientation wouldn’t be best captured by the standard Derndale’s layout; by default the impressive face-glazed gable is to the front of the property, facing away from the views. At this point we made the decision to re-work the internal layout and external appearance to sit comfortably on the plot taking advantage of the beautiful views. As a result, the master bedroom and living space was moved to the rear, facing out into the garden and countryside beyond. A new front gable was integrated, providing space for the staircase and flooding the heart of the home with light.

Some of the double-height space to the first floor landing was also exchanged for an additional bathroom; providing one of the bedrooms with an en suite, as well as a family bathroom, allowing for space when their friends and family visit them in their new Herefordshire abode!

We also introduced a rear porch, in addition to a lean-to porch to the front, allow for the practicalities of arriving home from muddy dog walks! We also submitted one our two bay oak frame garages for additional utility and work-room space, as well as a bay for additional car parking.

Re-submitting for planning

While the plot had full (detailed) planning approval for a house, we still prepared comprehensively for the planning application. Our Design and Access Statement (A supporting report submitted with a planning application outlining responses to the site, setting and local context and outlining the planning context) was used to demonstrate how the new proposals compared to the existing design. In this case it could be demonstrated that the proposed floor area and volume was being reduced, while key planning concerns such as the ridge height and material palette remained similar. This all assisted the planning process and helped overcome potential issues.

Generally, an application for a revised design will be more straightforward than a virgin site, as the principle of development has been established. This is especially the case if the previously agreed access arrangements are being retained, which for Karen and Simon they are.

Waiting for planning approval can be a tense time in the process, so when it comes through we always share the jubilation with our clients. In this case Karen and Simon phoned to tell us the news in very high spirits and are very excited to move forward with the next steps of their self-build journey! We will be on hand to support them through these next stages, including preparing the Building Regulation Drawings, providing a streamlined hand-over from planning into oak frame design and beyond.

Why not come to the Webbs Meadow open day on Friday 10 May? to find out more click here