Our clients owned a house in the Green Belt with a large outbuilding that has mostly been used as a garage. The garage, they felt, was as big as a house, so why shouldn’t it be a house? And if you could turn the garage into somewhere to live, why not replace it with a house that was more suited to the job? Or even houses?
If they weren’t bigger – or were only slightly bigger – than the garage, then they would have little or no extra effect on “openness”, which is the most important characteristic of the Green Belt as far as the government is concerned.
But although that logic might make sense to you, the opinion that matters is the council’s – could we convince them that a replacement building in the Green Belt was an appropriate development in a protected area? Here is how we obtained planning permission for another Green Belt development.
It’s easy to imagine that all new Green Belt houses look like something from Channel 4’s Grand Designs. But the Green Belt contains everything from London suburbs to small villages to open countryside. So it also includes a wide variety of types of home.
In this case, it’s a pair of three bedroom houses that reflect the local tradition while having a contemporary feel. Seen from the front, the replacement houses are identical. But the presence of a large tree means that one of the houses can only have a small basement.
For the other, though, we have provided a large basement containing a playroom and an office. This is an example of why an architect should always be flexible in their thinking: it would be very easy to assume that because the exteriors of the two houses needed to look the same, their interiors should match too.
But if we had been that unimaginative, the second house would have been a massive 80 sqm smaller than it now is! Together, the replacement houses are only slightly larger than the old garage but make a significantly more substantial contribution to the area.
Getting planning permission for these two lovely houses in Green Belt hasn’t been easy. But it shows what can be achieved even in protected areas with patience, planning skill and excellent architects.
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