Looking at the derelict bungalow in suburban London they owned, our clients wondered what the best way to get value from it was. They could have the house refurbished and put back on the market. Or they could see whether they could add another floor and turn it into a bigger house. Or would it be possible to replace this single house with several homes?
That was the question they came to us with – what was the most they could get from what they owned? As we always do before we start any work, we analysed the plot using both our architectural and planning perspectives and came to the conclusion that it would be possible to build three houses. But could we get the council to agree with us?
We will readily admit that “gentle densification” might sound like the kind of thing you say when you are trying to pretend you’re not turning a quiet village into a hectic town. But it’s exactly the right description of what is happening here. The bungalow was not an efficient use of the site – and adding three small houses was hardly going to turn this suburb into a slice of downtown.
The tricky part was the relationship between the curving road front and the rest of the site, which slopes away. The bungalow sat away from and below the street, almost ignoring it. What we did, on the other hand, was embrace the fact that the plot was fan-shaped. Our three houses face the street and tapering gardens behind.
The houses look similar, but one of them is substantially larger than the others. That’s because we were determined to make the most of the opportunities on offer and rather than creating three smaller identical homes (which would have saved a bit of our time), it made more sense on our clients’ behalf to be flexible.
The result was that rather than one house that no one was living in, we were creating space for three providing homes for up to 12 people. Great for our clients and a subtle way of adding to London’s housing supply. The council agreed and granted planning permission.
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