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John Williams speaks about the project:

Jo and Colin were well prepared when I first met them to discuss their ideas and plans for their new house in 2011. Not only had they fallen in love with the Oakwrights Show Home, and in particular its open plan living space, bathed in natural light from the glazed oak-framing, but they had spent valuable time discussing their ideas with the local planning authority, on the site they had set their heart on.

wiltshire village initial sketches

initial sketches

wiltshire village consented drawings

consented drawings

John Williams continues...


In a pretty Wiltshire village, they had the good fortune to be presented with an opportunity to build their new house in the grounds of Jo’s parents’ property. With Colin’s job often requiring him to lodge away from home, being close to her parents was particularly important for Jo and their children.

In spite of being within the village boundary, from their initial research it was clear that there were a number of planning constraints to be overcome before an application could be supported. With this in mind, Colin and Jo had already chosen to employ a local planning consultant, Ben Pearce.

Working with Ben’s advice and the feedback he had already gained from the local planners, we produced a first draft set of drawings to present to Jo and Colin, based around the oak frame design features they liked so much from the Oakwrights Show Home, but responding specifically to their site and its features, the orientation of the plot, and the scale and scope of the accommodation that they needed. We were delighted to hear back from them that they really liked the designs, so much so that they had only very minor amendments they wanted to make.

Ben chose to present the revised drawings to the planners for their final comment prior to making the full application. It was requested that the new house be repositioned a small distance away from the nearest shared boundary, and it was necessary to produce a drawing to illustrate the relationship between the proposed house and the neighbouring properties to the east. It was important to prove that there would be no detrimental impact on the neighbours’ gardens, and no problems of overlooking, or overshadowing from the new building.

The clarity of Jo and Colin’s vision, along with their conscientious and patient approach to the planning issues ultimately enabled the planning application to progress smoothly through to an approval, to everybody’s delight.

With Colin busy at work, Jo then threw herself into progressing the build, managing the works on site and coordinating the different trades. The oak frame and insulated encapsulation system were delivered and erected by Oakwrights during the cold weeks of January 2012, allowing the internal works to follow on soon after in a dry and weather-proof structure.

The cold and wet weather that characterised much of 2012 caused the external works to the house to be delayed in the coming months, with the scaffolding only able to be dropped in the summer, and the family officially moving in for Christmas that year. A couple of months later, Jo kindly sent a message saying how much she enjoyed living in the house, designed specifically to suit their family lifestyle! It is a pleasure to be part of a process that helps clients realise such an important project in their lives.

Jo McClean recalls:


We had feared the planning process would be an uphill struggle because our planning officer had initially been very negative stating it would be ‘highly unlikely’ that permission would be granted. We immediately sought the advice of Ben, a local planning consultant; he and John made an excellent partnership combining local planning knowledge with design expertise. We felt we were in very capable hands and much more optimistic about our chances of success.

In preparation for our first meeting with John we put together a detailed description of features we would like (including many inspired by the Oakwrights show home) and how we would like the layout to match our lifestyles, eg easy access from the kitchen to a patio area was important as we like to eat outside as much as possible. This brief was a good starting point for our discussions with John and meant we had a productive meeting and John had all the information he would need.

It was a very exciting moment when John e-mailed his initial designs; definitely love at first sight! We were impressed with how skilfully he had translated our wish list into a beautiful design that fitted the plot perfectly. Even though we pored over the plans for ages we couldn’t suggest any amendments. I was a little apologetic when I contacted John to confirm this as I didn’t want him to think that either we were rushing our decision or didn’t particularly care, but as we felt the design was perfect we would have been playing around with it for the sake of it! Ben was also happy as he could see no grounds for objection from a planning policy point of view.

Apart from having to reposition the house within the plot our application went through smoothly with only a slight delay for resubmission so the process was nowhere near as bad as we had feared.

Although we experienced some of the usual frustrations during the build process, these are no longer important; now we are settled in, those frustrations have faded into distant memory. In contrast, the novelty of living in a beautiful home, where every detail has been planned and decided to suit our specific wishes and needs, will definitely never wear off.


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