Many thanks to Richard Hawkes of HAWKES Architecture for providing the below thoughts having recently obtained planning approval for 'Scots Pines', a Para 79 (e) dwelling in Derbyshire (https://www.hawkesarchitecture.co.uk/scots-pines/)
"When the Country House clause policy was introduced by John Gummer back in 1997, the handful of schemes that scaled the bar were lavish, luxurious, ludicrously expensive and large. A redirection of the policy in 2004 made it more accessible and a collection of familiar sized abodes developed, often accompanied by a dazzling array of tricks & toys.
HAWKES Architecture’s most recent [NPPF] Paragraph 79(e) project to have successfully jumped this hurdle is the 19th scheme they have taken across the line and it’s the smallest the practice has produced to date.
On 11th August 2020 and via live online Covid-19 secure broadcast, Derbyshire Dales District Council planning committee unanimously supported officers’ recommendation to approve this exceptional modest scheme for a farming family to live and work on their 40-acre parcel of the rolling Derby Dales.
The proposals have centred around the reforming & reinterpreting of two former structures that sat, as so many farm buildings in this landscape do, at the junction of three fields.
The presence of a derelict former stone building is retained within the rebuilding of a simple masonry building alongside which sat a small Dutch barn. The proposal retains the relationship of these two distinct buildings, linking them with a distinctly contemporary link which sets the arrangement of spaces within the house.
The landscape proposals are equally sensitive in their conception; seeking to restore & re-establish the hedge lines which create the historic small field pattern that prevails in the area.
As is expected of any Para 79 (e) scheme it is exceptionally well insulated, airtight, triple glazed, has MVHR and harnesses renewable energy to sustain its reduced energy footprint. The house has not sought to over-optimistically predict the effectiveness of a fancy new lab experiment or promised to let students stuff it full of monitoring sensors. Instead it adopts an effective and appropriate combination of solar PV for power provision and a log boiler to provide heat & hot water. It’s simple, it’s sustainable and it works.
The objectives of this scheme are entirely accessible. We can all imagine why these folks want to live here; it just feels right. They were not trying to be greedy.
The house is simple in the accommodation it provides. There is no cinema, pool or sauna. It is a home we can all relate to. The planning officers got this, as did every single member of the planning committee. The scheme was presented to The Design Review Panel (https://www.designreviewpanel.co.uk) on two occasions and they also recognised and supported this.
This delightful scheme demonstrates how an exceptionally well designed modestly sized dwelling helps to raise the standard of design through being truly outstanding, reflecting the highest standards in architecture, significantly enhancing its setting while demonstrating sensitivity to its site’s defining character."
Within the Planning Committee Report, the Derbyshire Dales local authority planning officers notes:-
"There can be a temptation with Paragraph 79 houses to be an over-stimulated statement based on outstanding architecture and quite often the sense of place can be lost in the architectural statement. This proposal however, is a simple understated response to a farm grouping which is well conceived architecturally. There is a clear explanation of the way the buildings responds to the prevailing landscape. This demonstrates it is strongly influenced by the surrounding vernacular morphology of the landscape. "
" significant weight will be attributed to the endorsement of the quality of the design by The Design Review Panel in the light of the provisions in paragraph 79 (e) which supports new isolated dwellings in the countryside where they are of exceptional quality".