A pair of Two Storey
Increase in Value
Increase in Cost Efficiency
The challenge in this case was to transform an untidy part of this suburban road that was home to a series of eight disused storage garages and a fairly extensive patch of land that backed onto other semi-detached dwellings in the immediate vicinity into two two-bedroom homes, each with a garden, that would match the kind of houses in the rest of the area. Given the issues with breaking-and-entering, fly-tipping and associated antisocial behaviour, the local council had indicated that development of the land into dwelling houses would be supported.
The otherwise harmonious suburban design of the close complicated matters for the client, as it restricted the style of house they wanted to build. On previous occasions the owner of the land had applied for planning permission, but it had been refused on the basis of the proposed design of the buildings (initially a detached bungalow, and then two detached houses), which was unacceptable to the local authority. When the client came to us, they wanted to create two 3-bedroom townhouses - however, the staggered plot complicated matters by forcing an asymmetric design with numerous side additions to fit in all the amenities (such as the obligatory off-street parking) and provide the space the client wanted. Again, the council officers criticised this design as being out of keeping with the immediate area. A further issue was a lack of clarity around who owned the land to the rear of the development, which could indeed be incorporated into the project.
With both site complications and planning restrictions in mind, our solution was to design a pair of semi-detached houses that were able to fulfil several needs - to meet the demand for smaller family homes in this London borough, to take advantage of the unclaimed land to create better drainage for the local landscape, to remove the issues associated with the fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour, and to provide a sustainable mix of hard and soft landscaping essential to this kind of suburban development.
The inclusion of the unclaimed land was a real boon for this project, as it gave our architects and planners room to solve several issues that had hindered previous planning applications. The space allowed the houses to be set back to match the rest of the street, to provide essential off-street parking and cycle storage, a provision which avoided problems with neighbouring properties’ access to their garages. The integration of the land also gave the new houses ample gardens and outdoor storage, and also corrected the previous problems of outlook and ‘waste land’, solving a long-standing issue for the immediate neighbours and also making the new residences highly desirable for local families.
Careful design was another hallmark of the project, as the new houses of course met the minimum standards for two-bedroom living space under the London Plan, with a handsome 141sqm and 116sqm respectively, carefully designed to avoid noise transfer. Given the location in a Critical Drainage area, the decision was taken to integrate a rainwater harvester in the gardens of both properties, meeting National Planning Policy Framework guidelines for Sustainable Draining Systems (SuDS) and also aiding the environmental sustainability of the project. This iteration of the house also closely followed the existing style of building in the close, which had been key in the local council granting permission from the project.
Previous proposals had included designs that departed from existing housing style, a factor that led the local council to reject the designs on the basis that this small, residential close was not an appropriate place to experiment with diversity of design and contrasting streetscapes. As such, the pair of semis were to be constructed matching the brickwork, stucco accents and façade fenestration and locations as the other and creating the harmonious development that the local council considered so important in the immediate context, all the while providing high-standard homes for local families.
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