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AR Design Studio wins approval for £2.5m seaside scheme

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Winchester-based AR Design Studio has won planning permission for a £2.5 million housing development above Castle Cove beach in Weymouth 

Plans for the 737m² scheme in Old Castle Road overlooking Portland Harbour include three homes, each set over three storeys with four bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, and garden.

AR Design director Andy Ramus said: ‘As a design studio who normally specialises in one-off, bespoke houses, to be able to bring our approach to a commercial development was a great opportunity. The outstanding site uniquely offers clients a new house with stunning views over the beach.

‘This warranted our tailored and rigorous design approach to the three properties within this high-end development.’

Work is expected to start on site in March 2018. 

Architect’s view

Situated on the Jurassic Coast, the three-house development sits above the public beach Castle Cove, overlooking the Portland Harbour. The area is famous for its sailing and watersports, hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing events in 2012. These ideal views are enjoyed throughout Weymouth, however on the site of Castle Cove, these have come at a price. The site constraints include a Site of Special Scientific Interest and World Heritage Site in the lower section, as well as land instability, which is common along this area of the coast. The condition of the site is deceiving; the steep slope is untouched by development, with the existing ground condition hidden under hedgerow. The public footpath leading down to Castle Cove beach has already been victim to this instability, the remaining path now a dirt track for those who choose to access the beach at their own risk.

The client, C&L Developments came to AR Design Studio in February 2016 with a brief to improve upon the extant planning approval for three houses [designed by local architect David Crosland]. The budding developers were after a set of houses with the ‘wow factor’ to match that of the site.

Due to the constraints on site, the massing was kept similar to that already approved. AR’s contemporary approach focused on simplifying the massing and materials to create a set of streamlined, modest homes. 

Spread over three floors, the house is designed to appear at one storey from Old Castle Road, a flat roof employed for minimum impact. Two elements sit below, pushed around a central core to break up their mass. The façade is opened in spaces to capture aspect, and the pods rotated to avoid overlooking between the houses, and maximise views in all directions. Finally, the two lower floors are submerged in the landscape, obscuring the lower elements.

Castle Cove’s site has been a determining factor in both the design and planning application, the project being submitted in April 2017. Five months later, the approval has assured the new proposal will add a modest contemporary approach to the picturesque Portland Harbour.

Project data 

Location Weymouth
Type of project residential development
Client C&L Developments
Architect AR Design Studio, Vasilis Valomenos
Landscape architect Ibbotson Studios
Start on site date March 2018
Gross internal floor area Each house 246m²; total: 737m²
Form of contract and/or procurement Traditional
Total cost Approximately £2.5 million

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Very disturbed to read that this project "offers clients... their own private beach". Neither developer nor architect has the right to offer this to the highest bidder. Castle Cove is a lovely sheltered public space that has been enjoyed by generations of locals and holiday makers alike. If it belongs to anyone it is the Queen, who is obliged to share it with the public. There is a committed local campaign for the council to fulfill their obligation to ensure public access is reinstated. The text of this article is inaccurate, and needs to be clarified.

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