Creating a family home in a national park
The South Downs National Park Authority takes its responsibility for maintaining the rural environment very seriously. Unfortunately, this means that many developments that would be perfectly reasonable in a village centre elsewhere are turned down out of hand.
For a father of growing children who didn't want the upheaval of relocation to get some extra space, this was a problem. Having worked with us before to achieve a ground floor extension, he called us in to see what could be done. The result has been very successful.
Technically the rear ground floor extension had already used up the allowable extension space under the SDNP guidelines...
...but by including the garage and extension in the total footage, we demonstrated the new extension complied with the policy
"Moving house would be massively disruptive, but with growing children and the need to be able to look after parents in the future, we desperately needed more space. Adding a bedroom seemed the obvious answer.”
"I couldn't believe that we had over 20 neighbour objections when we first applied. Peter took time to meet with the Council and walk through the options and came up with a plan that still gave us a decent extension and the room to grow without moving."
This application fell between two stools because in 2018 the South Downs National Park decided to move the goalposts from allowing up to 50% extension to existing properties, to only agreeing to 30%. As its planning authority, Horsham District Council was bound by these rules, and was minded to refuse the application, as the client had already extended a couple of years previously and the local objections were so vocal.
"However, when we examined the planning policy in detail, we discovered that the restriction did not specify whether the allowance was against current floor size or as originally built, and argued the case that an extension should therefore be permitted.
Working closely with Horsham District Council we prepared alternative plans for the client and did a complete space calculation to demonstrate that the extension would add just 29% of net new floor space.
We then suggested a 'charm offensive' which found the client visiting all the neighbours to show the revised plans and getting their agreement to withdraw their objections. As a result, when it came up for a decision at the planning committee, not only were the new plans recommended for approval, the council noted that the application had been carefully redesigned to take into account neighbour objections, and passed it with no restrictions..
The previous extension added a major dimension tot he house, which the client did not want to leave
Careful planning of the new bedroom and ensuite maximised space
The first application we put through on this house went through like a dream, but that was before the SDNP decided to change its criteria. It showed the importance of staying abreast of planning policies and changes. If we'd put this through as part of the 2015 application, it would have flown through, but changing policies can catch you out.
Even still, the result also showed the value of working closely with the planners who we generally find to be helpful, even if they are constrained by the policies set out by their political masters.