Updated: Apr 3
Many thanks to Architect Oliver Currie from 33 Architecture (https://33architecture.com) for sharing the below blog article regarding a recent planning approval granted for an exciting project, initially sought under Para 80e (previously para 79) National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), for two new dwellings in a walled garden in Northumberland.
The client’s brief for this exciting site in Northumberland was to create two new build dwellings, under para 79e (Now 80e) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), subject to feedback from The Design Review Panel (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk). They hoped to provide an opportunity for the site by way of a dwelling in which they may relocate with one other property. The scheme was the first time a Para 79 scheme had been presented with more than one dwelling to The Design Review Panel.
The Panel questioned the isolation of the project and felt the scheme suited more of an infill location and argument, concluding that subsequently (at the time of the presentation) para 129, 131 or 134 would be more appropriate. The council’s case officer later agreed that the site would be determined as infill, although the highways team did respond there was a level of disconnection and isolation, however, with the various improvements and overall benefits outweigh issues in this regard.
The scheme was presented to The Design Review Panel (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk) in March 2021 and subsequently submitted for planning in September 2021, being approved in February 2023, after a prolonged period of undertaking on site excavations and reporting as part of the archaeological works to confirm the possibility of a former medieval settlement at the site.
The site had been in the client’s ownership for over 40 years and was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and their house was subsequently less suitable for an elderly couple. The scheme was therefore also essential in securing the upkeep of the estate and the future of the walled garden that has fallen into disrepair and cannot be maintained or properly managed. The nature of the project however was not to maximise gain but more focussing on widespread public benefit through technology and learning, as well as improved living for the future occupants.
The designs were designed to be modern in contrast to the non-designated heritage assets (NDHA) and seek to maximise low carbon technologies and focus on a sustainable approach in all measures. Where possible the design team were seeking to include innovative designs or construction, which also formed a key part of the process. Due to the special setting of this walled garden the scheme was landscape led around its layout and immediate landscape design, thus embedded in its site and history.
• Reinstatement of the collapsed wall section to reinforce the boundary treatment
• The existing garden wall has a buff stone outer skin and red brick inner skin.
• Utilise the privacy of the site, sloping levels and perimeter garden walls to sink in new structures and create something secret and hidden within the walls.
• Integrated landscaping scheme based on Historical arrangements of ‘outdoor rooms’ with different characteristics and species
• Utilise the orientation and positioning of Thermal mass and glazing
• Take the ‘hot walls’ concept and apply this in brick spine walls to explore alternative approaches to heating and cooling
The scheme submitted to the LPA was largely similar to the presentation to The Design Review Panel (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk) with some changes taken on board around design, landscape and a more interrogated series of environmental aspirations. The comments and feedback from the consultees at Northumberland County Council were all supportive and included the main considerations from the Built Heritage Design Officer (BHD) and Ecologist.
The walled garden is considered contemporary, first shown on the 2nd edition Ordnance Survey plan of 1899. The walled garden and adjacent house are NDHA due to their 19th century date and their architectural and historic interest. The BHD considered that the subdivision of the walled garden with a new wall (to the south-eastern side) would lead to a less than substantial degree of harm to the setting of the NDHA. The BHD also noted that proposed development was considered an effective way of securing the conservation and enhancement of the NDHA through the proposals brought forward.
The case officer agreed that the proposal would lead to a less than substantial degree of harm to the setting of the NDHA. The construction of two dwellings, outbuildings, and a subdividing wall would diminish the understanding of the layout and historic use of the walled garden, however, the development was of a contemporary, high-quality design. The buildings are single storey and specifically designed to sit within the walled garden and the form and function of the properties would relate well to the space. The scale, massing and indicated external materials were well considered specific to the site and the proposal accorded with Paragraph 134 of the NPPF, which requires such design to be afforded significant weight in favour of the proposal during the planning balance. The works would secure the long-term use of the site and the maintenance of the walls.
The proposal would also deliver several other benefits such as educational learning. Northumbria University were engaged early in the project, and subject to planning approval in respect of the proposed development by 33 Architecture (https://33architecture.com), had several potential areas demonstrate high-value research and pedagogic opportunities to the Department of Architecture and Built Environment at Northumbria University. Foremost, the potential research impact, to engage with a project that acts as a testbed for exciting, innovative building technologies such as those being proposed.
Northumberland County Council’s Ecologist also considered that a robust assessment of the ecological interest of the site had been carried out and suitable mitigation and enhancement is proposed for the impacts of the development. Bat roosts were identified but will not be impacted by the development, and a pond close to the site is not considered suitable habitat for great crested newt and as such the Biodiversity Plan prepared by 33 Architecture with support from Rosetta Landscape (https://rosettalandscape.co.uk), was welcomed and supported.
In summarising the application as part of their report the planning case officer concluded that the proposal is of a high-quality design, which is afforded significant weight in favour of the proposal in accordance with Paragraph 134 of the NPPF. The proposal would also not have an adverse impact on amenity of neighbouring properties and land uses, or on biodiversity. The proposal would deliver Biodiversity Net Gain, which is also afforded weight in favour of the proposal. Whilst the proposal would lead to a less than substantial degree of harm to the NDHA, on balance this degree of harm is considered justified.
The team at 33 Architecture are delighted to have brought such a fantastic collaborative scheme through the design review and planning process and look forward to progressing it to completion. One particular comment from The Design Review Panel that is fondly remembered is that:-
“... the art of creating something so simple is where the beauty lies, and we very much look forward to seeing this scheme being published in the future”.
More details can also be seen on the planning pages of the Northumberland County Council website using the following link:- https://publicaccess.northumberland.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage