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vPPR loses 100 per cent planning success record


Emerging practice vPPR has experienced its first-ever planning failure after its four-bedroom house in a London conservation area was rejected

The practice proposed the Queen’s Park scheme on an infill site currently occupied by disused garages on behalf of property developer Ivo Hesmondhalgh.

However, planners at Brent Council refused the application after objections from neighbours and concerns over a proposed courtyard.

A council report said: ‘Overall the proposal would not provide a satisfactory standard of accommodation for prospective residents due to concerns with the level of outlook and the sense of enclosure that would be created from the courtyards combined with the lack of amenity space which would be contrary to policy’.

It would also ‘fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area’ and ‘have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of adjoining properties’.

The all-female practice has won a reputation for designing tricky, constrained and tight sites, claiming a blemish-free success rate on its planning applications until now.

vPPR’s Vaulted House in Hammersmith is on the 20-strong longlist for this year’s RIBA House of the Year Award.

Plans for the 161m² Queen’s Park house feature a large barrel-vaulted green roof which covers pods containing the living room, dining room and kitchen, connected at the upper level by a bridge.

The scheme’s street-facing wall would be built of bullnose bricks designed to form a ‘curtain-like facade’ with curved doors and windows.

vPPR section of vaulted roof

vPPR director Tatiana von Preussen told the AJ that the practice would submit a revised proposal. ‘We don’t consider that we have lost our 100 per cent record because we think eventually we will get planning permission for this,’ she said.

Modifications might include lowering the height of the building and looking at different treatments for the facade.

vPPR brick house Queens Park

Project data

Location Queen’s Park
Type of project House
Client Queens Park Developments
Architect vPPR Architects
Landscape and planning consultant Maven Plan
Structural engineer South Stoke Structures
Gross internal floor area 161m2


Readers' comments (3)

  • As a neighbour to this proposed development I can say there was an awful lot of local opposition.
    We felt vPPR was totally insnsitive to the local environment - and to the sensitivities of the residents of the local highly resepcted Queens Park Conservation area.
    There were various grounds for objection NOT mentioned in the article.
    1. Proposed height was unacceptable - over 2.5 metres higher than the existing garages
    2. Large amounts of plate glass would “overloom” neighbouring gardens with great loss of privacy and amenity
    3. There will be considerable light spill from these windows at night
    4. Illustrations of these last two objections look horrendous - much like an organic alien space ship peering ominously over the end-of-terrace wall!! (Illustrations available)
    5. The construction of a TWO storey house would requires yet another highly unpopular basement dig – no votes from locals for that, thank you.
    6. All locals agreed the new structure should face into the road it was on – and NOT into the gardens across which the existing garages run. This was an entirely feasible option totally ignored by the architects.
    7. The proposed wall facing into the road looked more like the back of a prison or a factory wall than a house – especially the Victorian terraced houses in the conservation area. (See the illsustration in the article) Do architects have NO respect for conservation area guidelines these days?
    8. Unlike other residential walls along the road the proposed walls went up to the property's very edge.
    9. Residents appealed to the architect to provide windows in the walls facing the road as a welcome deterrent to anti-social behaviour in the street.
    10. Local residents objected to a TWO storey building when a single storey would have been adequate. A two storey proposal had been turned down for a similar development in garages across the same road and a single storey proposal accepted.
    11. Trying to squeeze a 4-bed house into 3 garages was patently stupid and greedy.
    12. QPCA Precedent: The neighbourhood and local resident’s association felt this plan, its bulk, outward appearance, style and materials would set the most dreadful precedent for end-of-terrace spaces in the conservation area.
    13 Materials:
    a) Bricks: When these garages were refurbished in 2005 the Council insisted they be faced with London yellow stock bricks to blend with neighbourhood terraces. The dark brown "cowface" bricks proposed were more suited to an industrial zone, - the architect says just "fun" – locals said, “you must be joking!”
    b) Sedum. Expert opinion says the proposed "green" sedum roofing will NOT work on a barrel shaped roof without an inbuilt irrigation system thus completely destroying its "greenwash" biodiversity credentials claimed by the architect.
    c) Big sheets of plate glass – note exactly appropriate to the vernacular
    14 vPPR wanted the building to be “outstanding”. Locals agreed it would stand out all right – like a very sore thumb!
    20. Consultation: The only "consultation" process with locals was a PR exercise, just as the architect’s claim of “biodiversity” was greenwashing and their hints of "architectural awards" were seductive but immaterial.

    If vPPR really wants to succeed on this site – assuming Mr Hesmondhalgh retains them – then I suggest that Tatiana von Preussen consults with locals seriously rather than trying to squeeze a mountain into a molehill in order to extract the last pound of profit for her client. We are in favour of residential development and are here to help – not just stand in the way of progress, not just to shout “NIMBY” – but hopefully also not to be ignored and trampled over.

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  • Industry Professional

    niiimmmmmmbbbbbyyyyyyy! niiimmmmmmbbbbbyyyyyyy! niiimmmmmmbbbbbyyyyyyy! niiimmmmmmbbbbbyyyyyyy!

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  • I think it's hard enough for young practices today. I can understand a similar story about chipperfield on a big big politically important scheme but this is a bit weird

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