Updated: Jul 13, 2019
In late 2015 The Design Review Panel was asked to provide a design review panel session for a paragraph 55 (now para 79) house being proposed to be built in the East Devon open countryside.
Four years later a selection of volunteer Design Review Panel members, were very kindly invited by the owners, Eileen and Nigel to visit, the now constructed, paragraph 55 (now para 79) house, to see to what extent the completed building had managed to successfully meet the aspirations set out at the design and planning application stage.
The proposal presented to the Design Review Panel was for a new house in the open countryside, which followed long journey by Eileen and Nigel Dutt to realise the creation of an exceptional and innovative new house on their land in which they intended to live.
The process undertaken by the applicants was a very long evolutionary design process involving a multidisciplinary design team including: Architects, Landscape Architects, Ecologists and Engineers, and including consultation with key stakeholders and liaison with organisations such as The Design Review Panel.
How was The Design Review Panel instrumental in achieving planning for this NPPF Paragraph 55 (now paragraph 79) house in Open Countryside:-
Due to the location of the proposal site within open countryside, in order to obtain planning permission, the proposals would need to meet the policy criteria set out with paragraph 79 (e) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which states: -
“Planning policies and decisions should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside unless one or more of the following circumstances apply: -
e) the design is of exceptional quality, in that it: -
is truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture, and would help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas; and
would significantly enhance its immediate setting and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.”
The applicants planning consultants felt that, in order to demonstrate compliance with the above policy requirements, it would be necessary to seek independent, impartial, multidisciplinary and expert review and input from The Design Review Panel.
The Local Authority Planning Committee gave the Design Review Panel’s feedback significant weight, treating the Design Review Panel feedback as a material consideration.
Design Review Panel Feedback After the Initial Review Session
It helped the applicant and their design team that they engaged with the design review panel process at an early stage of the design process, whilst the design was still fluid, and they felt able to amend the proposals as necessary in response to feedback given. Notwithstanding the above, at The Design Review Panel session it immediately became evident to the Panel that already a huge amount of work, care, sensitivity and multidisciplinary expertise had gone into to both the contextual, ecological and landscape analysis as well as the design proposals as a response to the clients brief.
Furthermore, it was felt by the Panel that the high level and quality of detailed information provided in advance of the Devon Design Review Panel session was extremely thorough and was helpful to the Design Review Panel process.
The Panel was encouraged to see landscape being the driving force behind the project; the proposals had been designed from the outset to respond to the local & wider environmental context. The presentation demonstrated an informed understanding of the site in terms of landscape & visual impact, ecology & topography as well as its constraints & opportunities.
Paragraph 55 of the NPPF stated that proposals should be ‘truly outstanding or innovative’. In this instance the Panel considered the design to be outstanding. The buildings sustainable / low energy credentials also supported the feeling that the proposals represented the highest standards in architecture. In terms of design it was felt that the proposals represented a design that was exceptional & that demonstrated a great deal of sensitivity.
There were of course aspects that the Panel felt would benefit from greater detail and clarification and these were responded to by the applicant and their design team before submission to the Panel.