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Hawkes Architects’ railway-inspired country house wins planning appeal

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Hawkes Architects’ proposal for a ’country house clause’ home at a former trout fishery in East Sussex has been approved on appeal 

The Lake House, near the village of Rotherfield within the High Weald Area of Natural Beauty, had originally been refused by Wealden District Council.

However, on appeal a planning inspector has waved through the 700m² home, approving the scheme under the NPPF paragraph 79, which permits countryside homes ‘of exceptional design quality’.

The design for the house is drawn from the historic former railway which runs along the edge of the 16ha site and features guest accommodation cabins in the form of three ‘carriages’ nestled within the trees.

The cabins would be laid out along the track of the former railway line and accessible only by foot.

According to Hawkes Architects, the Lake House is the first Paragraph 79 project to have been granted consent within Wealden District in the 22 years since the clause was brought in, in 1997.

Hawkes architects lake house web crop 5

Hawkes architects lake house web crop 5

In the planning inspector’s decision, John Papworth said: ’This approach results in a building that at the least reflects the highest standards in architecture and in many aspects exceeds them’.

Richard Hawkes, who has had 18 houses approved under the paragraph 79 policy, said the tests of the clause were simple yet often design processes and their interpretations ’fail to engage properly with their intentions’.

’The paragraph 79 policy provision has undergone several evolutions in its 22-year tenure but the central thrust of its vision remains largely intact. It is an elegant and beautifully simple policy which has delivered numerous exemplary houses.

’Whilst one person’s opinion over another might be considered subjective, the principles of good design can be looked at entirely objectively.

’Lake House is a testament to the truth that buildings can, and often do, enhance the landscape within which they are set.’

Work is expected to start on site in 2020.

Hawkes architects lake house web crop 2

Hawkes architects lake house web crop 2

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Is this really all that it's cracked up to be?
    A disparate collection of forms 'reflects the highest standards of architecture and in many aspects exceeds them' - where did the Planning Inspector get that idea?
    The main inspiration would appear to have the Nissan Note, with a nod internally to the Maidenhead Arch (sorry, Brunel) and a fixation on buttresses (and not just externally)

    Surely a project more fitting to one of those homes magazines found at the supermarket checkout than to the AJ.

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