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Charles Holland wins planning appeal for country house in Kent Downs


Charles Holland Architects has won, on appeal, the go-ahead for a ’country house clause’ home in rural Kent

The scheme, on an undisclosed site close to a Grade II*-listed manor house within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, had originally been refused by Dover District Council.

However, on appeal the planning inspector waved through the designs, approving the proposal under paragraph 79 of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) a clause that allows new-build homes to be constructed in open countryside under special circumstances.

According to the practice, the 170m² house is ’a mannerist inversion of its 17th century neighbour’ with a vernacular front elevation ’characterised by an exaggerated catslide roof of peg tiles that comes down almost to the ground’.

The scheme also features a huge dormer, bullseye windows and a triple-stack chimney referencing the area’s domestic architecture.

The planning inspector said the design had ’clearly been the subject of a rigorous and scholarly process, and in itself is both outstanding and innovative’.

They added: ’Due to its visibility, [it will be] capable of helping to raise the standard of design more generally in the area.’

Historic England also supported the proposal, saying the house would be ‘a successful addition’ to the setting of the nearby listed buildings and met the requirements of paragraph 131 of the NPPF, which states that ‘new development should make a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness’.

Charles Holland said: ’Together with the landscape architect, we worked very hard to develop a design that respects its site and is an enjoyable and innovative piece of contemporary architecture in its own right.

’It can be seen as an homage to the rich history of houses and gardens in the area, as well as to wider traditions of domestic architecture. The client has shown great patience and commitment in supporting this approach and we look forward to working with them to realise their house in the coming months.’

Work is expected to start on site next year.

Site model photos cha

Site model photos cha

Architect’s view

The front elevation is informal and vernacular in character and is characterised by an exaggerated catslide roof of peg tiles that comes down almost to the ground. The rear, garden elevation is more vertical in aspect and formal in character. The inverted orientation allows the new house to avoid conflict with its neighbour while offering dramatic views from the interior across the Kent Downs towards the white cliffs.

The choice of materials follows the same design logic. The low-key front and side elevations are faced in a red-brown brick, which then gives way to reveal white bricks on the formal rear elevation.

Charles holland kent house section

Charles holland kent house section

Bullseye windows, super-scaled dormers and a triple-stack chimney refer to a history of domestic architecture in the area. The long, low expanse of earth-coloured roof and vertical face of chalk-white bricks also relates to the topographic character of the wider site.

 The design has been carefully integrated into its hamlet setting through a detailed landscape design. Like the house, the garden has been designed to graduate in character from informal spaces at the front to more formal areas at the rear.

The house is approached via an informal lane that curves through an orchard before straightening out to set up an axial view across the site towards the Kent Downs.

The garden progresses through a series of outdoor rooms containing a lime walk, lawn, winter garden, terraces and a kitchen and cutting garden. Garden equipment, bins and storage are contained within a small outhouse that is a diminutive copy of the larger house. The house itself is revealed slowly, set away at the end of a diagonal path that preserves views across the site and allows a sense of surprise and delight as it is discovered.

Charles holland kent house plan without labels

Charles holland kent house plan without labels

Project data

Location Kent
Type of project New build house
Client Confidential
Architect Charles Holland Architects. Team: Charles Holland; Daniel Stilwell; Elia Loupasaki
Landscape architect Louise Hooper (Louise Hooper Landscape Architects)
Planning consultant Tim Harbord
Environmental engineer Alan Harries (Integration)
Heritage consultant Andrew Derrick (Architecture History Partnership)
Gross internal floor Area 170m²
Start on site 2019


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Readers' comments (8)

  • If this is the result of 'rigorous and scholarly process' then God Help Us.
    Was the patio window a 'rigorous and scholarly' afterthought?

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  • Clever plan and section, though.

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  • "......the design is of exceptional quality, in that it:
    - is truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in
    architecture, and would help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas; and
    - would significantly enhance its immediate setting, and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area."

    If that is the challenge. Is this the answer?

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  • Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi lurking in the garden must have swayed the Planning Inspector!

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  • These country houses are almost down to the size of ordinary housing estate homes now. Give it a few more years and we'll probably be able to build one of those in the middle of a field.

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  • I think this is rather good. Charming approach to the house and making the most of the views. Not sure what's not to like apart from personal taste but was it not ever thus? Good ideas are good ideas in my book and I'm sure this house will be full of them. Good work Charles and team.

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  • Dear Denise Scott Browne and the late Robert Venturi were certainly not lurking in the garden !
    How anyone could cite their names in a decision to allow such a design is quite shocking !
    The plan and elevations are not resolved ! , bad decision .

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  • Have another look at the images. Architectural I-spy!

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