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Appeal victory for another 'country house clause' home

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Brighton’s ARCH-angels Architects has won a planning appeal for a ‘country house clause’ home in Hampshire

The 630m² scheme is the latest in recent weeks to be approved under the rarely used Paragraph 55 clause in the National Planning Policy Framework – an exemption allowing new-build homes in the open countryside under ‘special circumstances’.

Since the end of February the AJ has reported on a trio of similar victories for AR Design Studios in Buckinghamshire, Studio Spicer in Warwickshire and MatchBox Architects in rural Essex. On average only half a dozen approvals a year are judged to fulfil the criteria of Paragraph 55 – a clause introduced into planning policy in 1997 by then environment secretary John Gummer.

ARCH-angels Architects’ ‘minimal impact’ house in Wishanger Lane, east Hampshire, has taken six years to develop with the help of a ’committed team of 17 people, across 12 organisations’.

Nicola Thomas, director of ARCH-angels Architects, said: ’Everyone involved with the scheme is thrilled with the result and delighted for the client. The planning permission is well deserved; it was won with all the work and passion the whole team invested over six years to ensure that the proposal was truly sustainable.’

According to the practice, the earth-roofed home was designed so that it could be ‘reclaimed by the earth when its life is over’. It will be built from locally available materials with low embodied energy, including Bargate stone, rammed earth and glulam timber beams from coppiced wood grown close to the site.

ARCH-angels' proposed Para 55 country house in Wiishanger Lane, East Hampshire

ARCH-angels’ proposed Para 55 country house in Wiishanger Lane, east Hampshire

Dining room

The architect’s view

The sculptural design of the house is formed by the existing contours, which naturally seemed to create two ‘orange segments’ which sit into the low area of the site, allowing a ‘bridge’ between the two higher points in the form of living roofs. The journey along the new driveway brings you to the valley between the highest points of the site to where the proposed house will nestle. Vehicle access terminates at garaging to the side of the house; however the journey continues through the building on foot to a tunnel, lit with sun-pipes, which leads to a subterranean look-out observatory, peaking out like a blinking eye.

The two-segment form of the building splits the house into a predominantly north / north-east facing part and a predominantly south / south-west facing part. The internal arrangement responds to this orientation, positioning rooms with less need for natural light to the north, while the more open-plan living areas, terrace and pool face south-west to take advantage of the sun light and solar gain.

The design is truly low energy; it has low environmental impact both visually and in its method of construction and materials used. True sustainability will be delivered through balancing the benefits of site conditions and orientation, embedded energy in construction, lifetime cycles of use, consumption and maintenance and interconnected smart technologies.

ARCH-angels' proposed Para 55 country house in Wiishanger Lane, East Hampshire

ARCH-angels’ proposed Para 55 country house in Wiishanger Lane, east Hampshire


Project data:

Architect ARCH-angels Architects
Planning consultant Stiles Harold Williams
Low energy consultant Green Box Associates
Landscape designer Dan Lobb Design
Structural engineer QED Structures
Water consultant ech2o
Reed bed specialist WCI Sewage Treatment
Ecologist Ecology Co-op
Gross internal floor area 630m²

ARCH-angels' proposed Para 55 country house in Wiishanger Lane, East Hampshire

ARCH-angels’ proposed Para 55 country house in Wiishanger Lane, east Hampshire


Statement from planning inspector Louise Gibbons 

The important point about this proposal would be the combination of features and opportunities offered on the site, which would combine to form an integral part of its design. Overall, the design would embrace the site’s physical characteristics in terms of the contours of the land, its orientation and views towards the ponds. It would be of an exceptional quality…

The quality of the design, incorporation of sustainability concepts from the start, coupled with ecological benefits and a sensitivity to the characteristics of the area are sufficient to justify the scheme when considered against the criteria set out in fourth bullet of paragraph 55 of the framework.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • '...glulam timber beams grown close to the site.' - leaving aside the obvious question, did the timber come from trees grown close to the glulam fabricator's workshop, was this close to the site?

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