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FLACQ ESCAPES PLANNING FLAK

AGENDA

A relaxation of Scottish planning laws has finally allowed this private house in South Ayrshire, by FLACQ, to gain consent, ending months of uncertainty for the project's private client.

The building was the result of a 2004 competition to replace a dilapidated farmhouse and its steadings near Prestwick.

Ten entries were whittled down to a shortlist of four, which included FLACQ, founded by ex-Richard Rogers prodigies Hal Currey and Kim Quazi; Ayr-based ARPL; Walters and Cohen; and Munkenbeck + Marshall.

But the development of FLACQ's winning scheme - which incorporates a continuous 'stone wrapper' around the main sunken house, outhouses and garden - was put on ice when South Ayrshire Council (SAC) refused to grant planning permission.

In August 2004, SAC listed seven reasons why it had rejected FLACQ's scheme, the last of which stated: '?the proposed dwellinghouse do [sic] not reflect the traditional rural vernacular of the South Ayrshire countryside.'

However, SAC's primary concern was that the site was on the Prestwick Airport green belt, on which construction is prohibited.

Currey said the client was always aware that obtaining consent would not be a foregone conclusion: 'The advice we got was that there was possible room for manoeuvre, although consent was by no means certain.'

But room for manoeuvre only arrived with Scottish Planning Policy 15: Planning for Rural Development (SPP15), published in February 2005, which brought Scotland in line with England and Wales' more progressive PPS7 planning protocol.

Of key importance to the scheme was SPP15's assertion that: 'Opportunities to replace run down housing and steadings with new designs using new materials should also be embraced.'

With SPP15 on its side, Currey says it didn't take long for SAC to come round. He said: 'There was a change in priorities. . . they saw the project in a new light. New characters also joined the authority who were better versed to deal with this contemporary building.'

Work is scheduled to start later this year, with construction expected to take around 12 months.

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