Exceptional house gets planning approval

A proposal for an innovative, super-energy-efficient house in Stratford-on-Avon District has recently received planning permission after advice from MADE Design Review.

Seymour Smiths Architects presented their proposal for The Sheds, a ‘Paragraph 55’ dwelling, to the MADE Design Review Panel in November 2013. The proposed one-off dwelling is situated in the Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty, on the edge of the Barton-on-the-Heath Conservation Area. The proposal was to build to, and beyond the ultimate eco standard, PassivHaus, incorporating 6 bedrooms, including office space within 0.6 hectares of open countryside.

Paragraph 55 within the National Planning Policy Framework instructs planners to avoid new isolated homes in the country but allows a few exemptions.  These include houses of exceptional quality or innovative design.  
To achieve this, certain criteria have to be met, such as;
·  the dwelling must be truly outstanding
·  reflect the highest standards in architecture
·  significantly enhance its immediate setting; and
·  be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area

In the November design review, The Sheds was described by the panel as ‘a well considered scheme, drawing inspiration from, whilst not trying to mimic, the agricultural buildings found in the area.' The panel thought the architecture was sophisticated and distinctive and the site chosen for the development was ‘sufficiently’ isolated for paragraph 55. There were a couple of areas the panel thought the local authority should seek further reassurance about to enable the scheme to pass the Paragraph 55 test. They wanted to make sure that external guttering and other paraphernalia, that was not shown on the drawings given to the panel, would not undermine the clean lines and minimal external detailing. They also felt that more detail could be provided to show how the landscape would be treated.  The panel felt that if those matters were addressed, then they saw no reason why the scheme shouldn’t be considered as an outstanding and innovative proposal for the purpose of paragraph 55.

The scheme went to planning committee on 25th June 2014, with Cllr Gray, District Council Ward Member commenting on how part of the beauty of this scheme is how the project uses the site and blends in with its current surroundings.  Helen Seymour told the committee how the PassivHaus Premium technology for this scheme had never been used on a private dwelling before, only in underground car parks and supermarkets, and they would be working with the company who produce it and hoped lessons can be used from this pioneering technology in the future on volume house building. The Sheds was granted planning permission with a unanimous vote.