Achieving planning permission in a conservation area can be tricky; designs need to adhere to a stricter set of rules than usual to gain approval, which requires careful thought, planning and flexibility. These rules are typically put in place to preserve the character of certain areas, especially in locations of architectural and historical interest.
Despite being completely derelict internally and in dire need of a total transformation, this site’s location within a De Beauvoir conservation area meant we had to tread carefully and think creatively, ensuring our design met council’s expectations while still appealing to the client. This site had also been rejected for planning in the past, which added a layer of complexity to the task at hand.
So, exactly what was that task?
Put simply, our brief was to extend a four-bedroom house and convert the garage into a one-bedroom unit, each residence with private access to the garden at the rear of the property.
When embarking on this project, we knew we’d have to be innovative in our design, as there was a real likelihood the planning officers would refuse our proposal on the grounds that increasing the density of the site would cause overdevelopment of the property. Additionally, the scale of the conversion and the lengthened ridge height all had the potential to be contested. So with each of these considerations at play, it’s fair to say obtaining planning permission wouldn’t be a walk in the park…
In our design, we sensitively planned and confidently presented a scheme that gained the support of the planning officers, focusing on minimising any adverse impact on the area's character. Our approach adhered to the 45-degree rule, preserving natural light for adjacent properties and respecting the area's sensitive context. We also achieved a functional and spacious layout for the two new units, effectively balancing practicality with aesthetic appeal.
Given the site’s placement within a conservation area, it was important to carefully select materials that would blend in with and complement the surrounding area of De Beauvoir. Perhaps the most substantial of these material choices was the use of a biodiverse green roof, which reduces the prominence of the extension, melding subtly with its surroundings.
The end result: planning permission was successfully obtained and two homes would be created where there once was only one, not only maintaining the character of the De Beauvoir conservation area and serving as a great investment for the client, but also providing additional housing to the area which - in London - is vital.
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