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Planning process for a replacement dwelling

Gaining planning approval for a new house in a rural location can be challenging, particularly in scenic areas where controls on development may be particularly restrictive. But don’t let this faze you; as seen in our East Devon case study below, there are routes that can be taken to build your dream home.

Building a new barn-style home in East Devon

When our clients first saw their future home for sale they immediately recognised the potential of the site, which lies in East Devon and offers extensive views over open countryside. One way of obtaining planning permission in a scenic area such as this is via the replacement dwelling method, i.e. source an existing house in poor repair on a site with potential, then apply for permission to replace the dwelling with a more desirable (and often more in-keeping) build.

The existing 3-bedroom bungalow was of prefabricated construction and beyond economical repair. It was clear to the clients that there were tremendous advantages to building a new energy efficient dwelling, and so they contacted us with the prospect of building a new oak framed barn style house.

The obvious advantage of the replacement dwelling method is that the principle of residential use on the site is already established, meaning the chances of consent being granted for your dream home are greatly increased. However, it is important to bear in mind that the design will require approval from the local authority. Details such as scale, siting, materials, vehicular access and landscaping will have to be acceptable under local, as well as National Planning Policy Framework. Our extensive experience and substantial portfolio of completed replacement dwellings is invaluable in navigating this process smoothly.

Meeting the Architectural team

Our first meeting with our clients began with an introduction to Helen Needham, our Architectural Department Manager and her team at our nearby show home. A brief was discussed and developed, precedents were shown, and sketch design possibilities began.

Helen then met with our clients on site to get a feel for the context, light and views over the site whilst also discussing where the new house and garage would be best located. Advising on the proposed building lines, amount and scale for the design.  A desktop appraisal found the site was within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as well as being in the open countryside in planning terms.

One of our Architects developed the concept into a detailed planning design which, while appropriate to the rural location, was somewhat taller and larger than the existing dwelling to meet our client’s brief.  Under the circumstances it was agreed that we would submit a request for pre-application advice to East Devon District Council to establish any constraints on the design before submitting a full application.

Pre-application advice is an opportunity to get written feedback from a planning officer before you submit an application. You may be able to have an informal discussion giving the officer an opportunity to assess the chances of a proposal getting full permission. They evaluate the scheme in relation to the site, its surroundings, local planning policies, highways infrastructure, and potential disruption to footpath access along with many other factors.

As part of the pre-application process, feedback in this case steered towards a reduction to the extent of the domestic curtilage. However, the increase in height to a storey-and-a-half was considered to be mitigated by the proposed materials (timber weatherboarding to first floor, and natural slate roof), which would help the building blend with its setting. The pre-application response also confirmed that a foul drainage assessment and arboricultural survey would be required to support the application, and the relevant consultants were appointed.

Despite some minor amendments to the design, (as is healthy during the design evolution stage), a broadly positive pre-application response meant that the full planning application could be submitted with a fair degree of confidence in a favourable outcome and planning permission was obtained in August 2017.

Once the planning approval was in place, the detailed design of the frame and encapsulation was carried out by Oakwrights Frame Designer Alex Knowles and Encapsulation Designer Carrie Powell. Building Regulations drawings and submission were managed by Architectural Technician, Lee Wilson who is part of our in-house architectural team. With this all in place the construction planning phase could proceed. Our clients chose to use the Oakwrights Wrightwall Natural, our environmentally friendly encapsulation system around an Oakwrights oak frame, whilst retaining a local contractor to construct the substructure and complete the internal and external finishes.

Erection of the oak frame commenced on 5th February 2018, with encapsulation completed by mid-March. The remaining building work was substantially complete by the end of June 2018, and the completed home is now occupied and will be enjoyed for many years and generations to come; a credit to all involved!


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