Project type

Subtle but significant addition to historic cottage in the Green Belt


Noak Hill Road RM3

Local Planning Authority

Havering Council

Plot Type

Green Belt

Project Type

Extension, Listed Building, Green Belt


Extension of Grade II listed building in the Green Belt

Services by Urbanist Architecture

Project Architect, Planning Consultant, Lead Consultant


Crown Trees, Salford Archaeology, Spencer Heritage


It’s easy to imagine all listed buildings are big and grand. But that’s not the case - the listing process covers all scales of properties, including many originally humble terraced houses and cottages.

A cottage is what our clients had purchased - small, thatched roof, with lots of charm, but cramped inside. It is Grade II-listed, but it didn’t take an expert’s eye to tell it had been much changed over the centuries. And when a historical study was done, it revealed many of the “old”-looking elements were, in fact, clumsy 20th-century additions, based on a misunderstanding of what an 18th-century cottage should look like.

Of course our clients wanted more room to move, but more importantly, they wanted usable space. Nothing greedy - all they wanted was the ability to walk around their bed, not over it, and to not bump their heads on the ceiling. As well as the listing though, there was another issue: the cottage is in the Green Belt.

Before & After


Our task was to create a much more livable home while respecting its history and causing no harm to the Green Belt. That second goal was made slightly easier because - over the decades - various outbuildings had been accumulated in the garden. A couple of these could be demolished, meaning even though the cottage would be getting bigger, the total amount of built-up space in the Green Belt would be reduced.

Working to the full list of what our clients wanted, we took an ambitious design with a large extension to a pre-meeting with the council. Their feedback was that it was too much - they felt it would overwhelm the cottage.

This is where the skill of our design team was tested - and, we think, showed their talent. The council wanted something that would feel like a modest increase from the outside. The client wanted something that would feel like a noticeable increase on the inside. Could that be done?

As it turns out, yes it could.

Through thoughtful design and careful planning, we were able to get that difficult balance right and set this lovely cottage up for many more years of happy use.

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