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Designscape wins planning for six-bedroom house in green belt

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Planning officers have invoked ‘very special circumstances’ to grant planning permission for a substantial six-bedroom house on green belt land in the village of South Wraxall, Wiltshire

Designscape Architects’ plans for the Park Cottage scheme, which also sits in the conservation area of South Wraxall, include six bedrooms, dining and living areas and a cloistered indoor archery range.

Most of an existing 1866-built cottage – once used as a public reading room – will be demolished to make way for the proposal, with the exception of the gable end and door, which will be incorporated into the design. 

In the planning report, officers support the application and consider there are ’very special circumstances’ to allow it, despite it being on green belt land, incorporating contemporary design elements, and being materially larger than the existing cottage on the site. 

’The proposed development, by virtue of being materially larger than the existing dwelling, would be considered as inappropriate development in the Green Belt with respect to NPPF paragraph 89,’ the report reads.

’However, as set out within the report, very special circumstances exist through recognising that a substantive amount of added volume proportion would be below ground, and the impact on the Green Belt’s openness would be limited/negligible.

‘The proposed replacement dwelling would have contemporary design elements but it would still integrate well within the historic environment of the conservation area and would feature significant traditional design features and materials in terms of wall and roof construction and finishes.’

The report also notes that the existing cottage is ‘not considered to be of any particular architectural merit’.

Work is expected to start on site in April 2018, with completion scheduled for March 2019. 

Site plan proposed

Site plan proposed

Source: Designscape

Proposed site plan

Architect’s view

A series of traditionally pitched gabled forms of local limestone rubble stone walling will face the street, with subtle, non-traditional detailing around the openings. A strong gable end and a metal clad staircase ‘turret’ enclosure will mark an important corner in the village at the intersection of the main roads and will hint at the very different architectural treatment to be found on the more private rear elevation of the house.

The south-facing garden side of the house will be characterised by a more open and transparent façade of timber framing with glass and metal infill panels, which will connect the living spaces to the garden and open countryside beyond. A Cotswold stone roof will unify the building and connect it clearly with its location and the conservation area.The proposals include the complete demolition of the existing Park Cottage and outbuildings, with the exception of the 1866 gable end and entrance door, which are retained in situ and incorporated into the street elevation, retaining the only historically significant fragment of the existing building as a memory in the streetscape. Despite the apparently traditional building forms, the plan of the house expresses its contemporary spirit with a carefully planned flow of large volume open plan spaces to suit a modern family home: the kitchen is open to the dining and living areas, which are divided into different zones through a fluid layout and use of double-height volumes. The living areas have direct access to a patio covered with a green roof.

A 25m-long ‘cloister’ links the house to the garage, and forms both an edge and a privacy screen to the garden, as well as providing one of the client’s key requirements – an indoor archery practice range. Upstairs, there will be six bedrooms, three with en suite bathrooms, but the accommodation has been designed with long term flexibility in mind – part of the house can be semi - autonomous, allowing for the private client’s changing needs in future.The design employs fabric first design principles and renewable energy sources which will comfortably exceed the Local Authority Planning requirement for Code for Sustainable Homes.

Project data 

Location Lower South Wraxall, Wiltshire
Type of project Residential, private home, green belt, conservation area
Client Private
Architect Designscape Architects
Landscape architect SEED Landscape Design
Structural engineer Format Engineers
M&E consultant E3 Consulting Engineers
Quantity surveyor Smith Thomas Consult
Start on site date April 2018
Completion date March 2019
Contract duration 52 weeks
Form/procurement Traditional JCT Standard Form
Construction cost £1.8 million

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • A good example of how the interpretation of some aspects of planning regulation can get in the way of reality; although larger than the existing house, the planners are correct in deciding that the new proposals are clearly of no relevance to the green belt - it's not as if a generous area of garden is being stuffed with more houses.
    However, to say that the existing 'cottage' (quite an extensive house in reality, which appears to combine two separate properties with further additions) is 'not considered to be of any particular architectural merit' is to ignore the philosophy behind the creation of conservation areas.
    This is to conserve the character of a place, and the new proposals here are questionable in that - on the north elevation - they lose the higher twin gables on the road corner, lose the angled relationship of the original properties, lose the contrasting variety of building forms and introduce a series of regimented gables, despite the retention of the old reading room gable and door as the centrepiece.
    So the planners' talk of 'special circumstances' rings a bit hollow when the lack of damage to the green belt is seemingly giving the nod to a pretty obvious dilution of the variety of architectural form and character within the conservation area, and liberal use of local rubble limestone walling doesn't make up for that.
    If the existing group of buildings (which appear to be in reasonably good condition, despite the naff modern roof trim to the reading room gable) couldn't be carefully and sensitively altered and expanded to provide the required range of accommodation, the client and architect should have looked elsewhere.

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