M2R BEATS PLANNERS IN CORNWALL
If one needs proof that perseverance pays, Londonbased practice m2r has the perfect example in its £4 million Whitsand Bay project in Cornwall.
Designed in partnership with German firm Hohenzollern Architekten, the 21-holiday home development, for private client Jess and Marie Earle, will nestle into the hills of the southern Cornish coastline, a few miles west of Plymouth.
Despite a design which m2r director Axel Rostock says is 'in playful rhythm with the landscape, ' the development has only recently been approved for planning following a three-year running battle with Caradon District Council.
The struggle finally ended in victory for m2r, after a judicial review at the end of last year ruled that councillors had been unreasonable in voting down two previous applications.
Unusually, the council was ordered to pay costs believed to be in the region of £60,000.
The saga began in 2004 when the Earles sold the sprawling Whitsand Bay Hotel - the hamlet's sole 'landmark' building. However, the couple retained the right to develop the surrounding land and commissioned m2r and Hohenzollern to draw up a scheme featuring 28 contemporary holiday homes.
Despite initial backing from Caradon's planning department in October 2004 councillors rejected the scheme and, in April 2005, a scaleddown application featuring 21 homes was submitted.
Rostock says that, with the council planning department onside, he was confident that the amended scheme would succeed. But, two days before the hearing, the planning department executed a surprise about-turn and withdrew its support.
'We were bitterly disappointed, ' says Rostock.
'After two-and-a-half years of being on our side they suddenly recommended it be refused.'
But rather than give up, m2r employed planning consultant Lawrence Associates to fight its corner at a threeday hearing.
'Six weeks after the hearing we were told that both previous planning decisions had been overruled, and full costs were awarded against the council, indicating that we had been treated unreasonably by the councillors, ' says Rostock.
Now m2r is eager to press on with the scheme, which Rostock describes as 'very contemporary and modern'.
Each house will feature a huge window looking out on to the sea, plus a private terrace, sauna and jacuzzi. They will also be environmentally friendly.
'This development will be a low-carbon-emission one, featuring biomass-fuelled heating, wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and rain water-harvesting equipment, ' explains Rostock.
The scheme will start on site in January 2008 and will be built in two stages. The homes on the upper hillside are due for completion in mid 2009, with the others following some 10 months later.