Project Address: - Lilley Brook House, Charlton Hill, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 9NE
Following engagement with The Design Review Panel (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk), this exciting project was granted planning permission by Cheltenham Borough Council on 4th August 2023, under paragraph 80(e) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The proposals have been produced by Hawkes Architecture (www.hawkesarchitecture.co.uk), Davies Landscape Architect (www.d-la.co.uk), and Evans Jones Planning Consultants (www.evansjones.co.uk/services/planning), on behalf of private clients.
The proposal is for the construction of a paragraph 80e dwelling, estate management building, associated landscaping, ecology/BNG enhancements, access, parking and garaging.
The site comprises a 7.5 hectares parcel of land, on the eastern side of the A435 Cirencester Road; the land opposite the site to the west forms part of the extensive Lilley Brook Golf Course. A residential property, 'The Larches' is located to the north of the site whilst, to the south, the site is bounded by the residential curtilage and associated paddocks and enclosures of Brecon House. To the east, the site is bounded by the 'Lilley Brook', and a copse known as ‘The Dingle’. The site is enclosed on all sides by trees and woodland; with ‘The Dingle’ to the east and established boundary trees and hedges to the north, south and western boundaries. Access to the site exists directly from the Cirencester Road via a gated entrance, which is used to allow farm machinery to access the site when required. The site is located outside of the Principal Urban Area (PUA) within the open countryside, and within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Richard Hawkes, Director of Hawkes Architecture, who are the project architects, has provided the following comments:-
“ We engaged The Design Review Panel [www.designreviewpanel.co.uk] following a frankly bizarre and outrageous experience with another so called design review “panel” ironically called ‘Creating Excellence Ltd’ (aka Design West), which had been inappropriately comprised of only one bully of an architect whose attitude was rude, entirely unhelpful and at odds with due process.
We’re grateful that the Inspector who eventually had to determine the application agreed with our reasoning for engaging a different design panel. It’s really important that design panels adhere to the established fundamental national design panel guidance and ensuring that a sufficiently capable multi-disciplinary panel. Occasionally we have found some DRPs are not adhering to these principles and instead creating a cartel style relationship with local authorities and in essence seeking to “sit alongside” the planners.
This has occurred with 'Creating Excellence Ltd' (aka 'Design West'), and South Cambridgeshire’s ironically titled, 'Design Enabling Panel', which has been set up by the council’s own urban design officer - hardly independent ! (another appeal which we’re grateful to have won and an inspector who once again agreed with our reasoning not to use a non-independent panel - https://www.designreviewpanel.co.uk/post/planning-inspector-gives-great-weight-to-independent-design-review-panel-feedback).
We enjoy so much working with respected professionals who understand the role of design review and fulfil this role with dignity, professionalism and common courtesy.
In the case of Lilley Brook we’re grateful to have had an extremely supportive planning officer and we cannot fault the efforts of Cheltenham Borough Council in supporting us through the bizarre process we had to suffer for so long.
Jonathan Braddick and his colleagues at ‘The Design Review Panel’ [www.designreviewpanel.co.uk] were consummate professionals; articulate, respectful, passionate and skilful in their examination of a scheme which had already endured more interrogation than any other paragraph 80e scheme we’ve ever worked on.
Even with ‘The Design Review Panel’s’ endorsement and officer’s recommendation to approve the scheme, yet another local supposed design review panel, the ‘Cheltenham Architects Panel’ interfered in the process in an entirely inappropriate manner and undertook their own “review” - turning down any offer of a site visit or presentation. This “panel” [‘Cheltenham Architects Panel’], who it’s fair to say are used to reviewing schemes in urban areas, entirely unfamiliar with the complexities of paragraph 80e schemes in rural landscapes, was comprised of only architects and no other discipline; no Landscape architect - seriously ?! Their interference, however, was sufficient to convince Cheltenham Borough Council’s planning committee to refuse the application and require the scheme to go to appeal.
The chair of the ‘Cheltenham Architects Panel’ then felt it appropriate to attend the subsequent appeal hearing where he could hear first-hand about this thoroughly developed and truly outstanding scheme. Almost beyond belief, we received an email from the chair following the hearing where he expressed his support for the scheme which, having been present to hear the scheme explained, found that in his view it had met the high bar of paragraph 80e.
Excuse my rant, but I think it’s important that there should be accountability for the actions of individuals who can influence what is already a very thorough process with myriad consultees involved in the planning process.
Jonathan Braddick and his Panel [The Design Review Panel – www.designreviewpanel.co.uk] are highly experienced, having undertaken over 180 (I believe) paragraph 80e (previously 55 &79) reviews all over the country over many years. This breadth of experience and the integrity with which Jonathan conducts his Panel is admirable and we salute his rigour and determination to consistently adhere to national design review guidance. With experiences such as the bizarre interferences we endured in this case, we’re grateful that there is an established experienced organisation out there who understand their role and exercise their duties with integrity.
Keep up the good work.”
The application was a resubmission following a refusal of planning permission in June 2022 (application ref. 21/02755/FUL), and subsequent dismissal of a planning appeal (appeal ref APP/B1605/W/22/3310113) in April 2023. Whilst the appeal was dismissed in 2023 by the Planning Inspector agreed with The Design Review Panel, and stated within the decision notice for the planning appeal that:-
“The proposal would be truly outstanding and be of the highest architectural standard. The scheme would help to raise the standards of design more generally in rural areas, would significantly enhance its immediate setting and would be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.
Consequently, the proposal would meet the policy exception for new dwellings
in the countryside as set out in paragraph 80 of the Framework.”
Notwithstanding this the Planning Inspector dismissed the appeal for the reason stated below:-
“The development would result in an adverse effect on the integrity of the Cotswold Beechwoods SAC. It would therefore conflict with the Framework and the aims of The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.”
The application was re-submitted and the re-submitted application addressed the perceived impact on the SAC; in light of the Planning Inspectors agreeing with the conclusion of ‘The Design Review Panel’ (www.designreviewpanel.co.uk), that the proposal had met the high bar set out in Paragraph 80e of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Cheltenham Borough Council approved the application.
The Design Review Panel provides independent, impartial, multidisciplinary and expert design review Panel sessions for applicants, design teams and local authorities, nationally across England.
Feedback from The Design Review Panel is a material consideration in accordance with paragraph 133 on The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).