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Pete Tonks writes the following planning consent story

This proposed project consisted of the demolition and replacement of an existing dwelling in a nearby Norfolk village. The village consisted of a number of really nice traditional houses and overall the quality of the architecture in the area is very well designed and presented. The plot itself was on the very limit of the village and would be the first house you saw so it was always going to be high profile. In a good way of course and it was my intention to design something really special.

initial sketches in norfolk by oakwrights

initial sketches

consented drawings in norfolk by oakwrights

consented drawings



Following an introduction from David Grey at Oakwrights, I was introduced to these clients back in the summer of 2009. So to commence proceedings, myself and Dave spent a good few hours with the Mr and Mrs Ferguson at our initial design meeting and worked up the initial brief. This initial brief provides a valuable framework for me to work to during the design phases but is also a useful document for all involved so that we ensure the design works for the client 100%.

My first draft concepts were presented to the clients a few weeks later and I was really pleased that they pretty much liked everything about it. Whilst I was pleased with this reaction, I was also not entirely surprised as I felt good synergy with my clients from the moment I met them and they were a pleasure to work with. We worked up a few tweaks following the initial presentation and were now at a point where we had a design down on paper that they were happy with.

The local planning authority who would determine the application is South Norfolk District Council who I have worked with in the past which is always useful. As with most local planning authorities now, they request that a pre-application document is submitted prior to the formal planning application to enable them to assess the scheme against local relevant policy and advise as to what would be required upon formal submission. I have been a strong advocate for many years of the pre-application route and find it to be invaluable in helping me, the clients and the local planning authority collectively evolve the proposals to all parties’ satisfaction. This ensures that when the full application is submitted, it is successful first time and therefore avoids the need for multiple revised resubmissions which normally end up diluting the originally intended design direction and vision for the build.

The response to the pre-application was as good as you could have hoped for really. In essence, it summarised that they were more than happy with my design and commented that it was one of the best presentations they have seen for many years and that the construction of the new house would make a positive contribution to the village. The parish council also described the proposals of “high architectural merit. This of course was fantastic news and we proceeded to compile the formal planning application and submitted this on behalf of the clients. The application was approved within the 8 week statutory timescale with a number of relatively straightforward conditions and there you have it... our clients have their planning permission and can start thinking about the build of their new family home.




In terms of the timber frame design, I wanted it to be a really good looking Norfolk country house with relatively narrow gables, steep roof pitches, random appearance in terms of window placements, a sense of asymmetry and a subtle combination of building heights and cladding mixes and of course prominent chimneys which on any traditional house design is a must.

The layout of the house is entirely bespoke to our clients and their young family and has been based on how they live and how they want to live. The ground floor features a traditional formal hallway with sweeping staircase and a formal living room and music room to the right of the hallway. The remainder of the ground floor is largely open plan incorporating the kitchen, dining and family areas and all of these spaces have views and access south out to the rear garden therefore maximising natural solar light and heat into the dwelling. In addition, there is also a good sized utility room, dog room and study near to the kitchen all with access to the garden as well.

The first floor comprises 4 double bedrooms and 4 bathrooms together with a double height vaulted gallery/landing zone which is top lit by the roof glazing placed along the ridge. This again will bring natural light and heat into the core of the building and will also add a sense of drama and height to the space. The master bedroom has a balcony overlooking the south garden but it is fully enclosed within the structure of the building so can be used whatever the weather.

In addition to the main dwelling, we also obtained planning permission for a triple garage with room above and also a separate outbuilding to be used as a garden store.

The clients intend to build the house to a high specification and have included some sustainable products and methods such as rainwater harvesting, solar PV tiles, and potentially geo-thermal heating.

The clients have now ordered their oak frame and are working through the Building Regulations with Oakwrights in-house design team and construction will start early next year.

This has been one of my favourite designs over the last couple of years and I am sure it will be an amazing house once it is finished.

Pete is always willing to discuss design ideas for your project. Please contact Oakwrights to make an appointment.

oak frame drawings in norfolk by oakwrights

oak frame drawings


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