Cornwall Para 80 House in the Countryside Approved at Appeal with Support of The Design Review Panel
Following engagement with The Design Review Panel (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk), this National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) paragraph 80(e) project was granted planning permission by a Planning Inspector on the 21st September 2022, having been previously refused by Cornwall Council. The project architects are Squirrel Design (www.squirrel-design.co.uk) and the landscape architects are Redbay Design (www.redbaydesign.co.uk).
Within the appeal decision the Planning Inspector states the following:-
“The amended plans and proposals have also been the subject of reviews by the South West Design Review Panel [The Design Review Panel], the last one being in February 2021 shortly before the appeal application was made to the Council. The Review’s conclusion at its meeting on 10 February 2021 is that the proposed dwelling now qualifies for being a justified exception to the development of isolated homes in the countryside on the basis of paragraph 80(e) of the Framework …”
The Inspector goes on to address the issue of the impact of the development on its immediate setting and eloquently dismisses the idea that any development in the countryside must represent a harm to its setting, he states:-
The arguably even higher hurdle in paragraph 80(e) is the requirement for the development to ‘significantly enhance its immediate setting’. I acknowledge the Council’s difficulty in coming to terms with the concept of a new dwelling built on an undeveloped field in the AGLV amounting to such enhancement. Nonetheless, this approach in the Local Planning Authority’s decision-making appears to invite a ‘like for like’ comparison of before and after the development, and in so doing to equate the principle of the development of a new home in the countryside with at best a neutral impact on the character and appearance of the rural landscape and at worst some harm.
On this basis there would be no scope for any paragraph 80(e) developments anywhere, especially as there is no suggestion in the Framework that the site for an isolated home must in some way need enhancement by reason of the site having poor visual quality or by already being degraded in some other way.
My interpretation of the policy therefore is that it is the combination of the building’s outstanding design with its altered immediate setting in the form of a garden or appropriate landscaping within the curtilage that would result in an outcome that could be properly regarded as enhancement. In effect, the loss of the agricultural field in existing countryside has to be discounted from the equation and the approach is more one of achieving a successful adaptation of this part of the countryside to a more domestic setting.
This leaves the effect of the development on the site and its landscape setting as still a potentially justified reason for refusal. However, any development has the effect of altering its context by the very reason of its existence, but in this case with actual harm most likely to arise arising from such factors as unsuitable external materials, inappropriate scale, an absence of screening or by not being in harmony with the landscape contours or local features.”
Kea House is a landscape driven scheme that takes inspiration from the historic field patterns and locally prevalent Cornish hedges. The design team presented the aspirations for Biophilic principles, passive systems, including solar shading, to result in a design proposal that has nature at its core.
The introduction of a new Cornish hedge is central to the design, and this introduces a ‘hide and reveal’ concept that is felt to relate to the surrounding countryside while providing habitats for native flora and fauna, placing circular economy principles at the centre of the design, construction and deconstruction process.
Alex O'Connor of Squirrel Design said:-
"The client for Kea House approached Squirrel Design (www.squirrel-design.co.uk) with ambitions of building on a piece of land that nestled within an Area of Greater Landscape Value and is adjacent to the Bodmin Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Paragraph 80 (e) (79 at the time of application), rightly, sets the requirements for design at a very high level for dwellings to be built in the open countryside. Initial scoping exercises with the design team deemed paragraph 80 (e) was the most appropriate approach.
The design teams experience in these areas encouraged early engagement with the design review process. The independent multidisciplinary review [by The Design Review Panel] of the project ensured the design team had to communicate clear and focused strategy outlining an invaluable foundation for the progress of the overall design. This engagement and feedback ultimately ensured a successful outcome for the design team, resulting in an approval at appeal ..."
The applicant for the scheme, Paul Sessions said :-
" My team attended five separate reviews with The Design Review Panel, who provided input from subject matter experts on aspects including the quality of the design, for both the building and the landscape, as well ecology and sustainability.
The interrogation of the proposals is very rigorous; having access to independent multi-disciplinary experts [The Design Review Panel] was invaluable as the project evolved. The support and endorsement from the Design Review Panel gave us confidence that Kea House had achieved the very high bar required by Paragraph 80(e)."