4 May 2022

The Feel Good Project, Nottingham

The Feel Good project is a modern extension of a house located on the edge of a nature reserve, which not only resulted in an outstanding design but also had a positive effect on the surrounding community.

The Brief

The property is set within an area of outstanding beauty. However, the owner felt he was unable to enjoy the views or access the garden easily due to its outdated design.

Working collaboratively, we designed a modern extension with floor to ceiling glazing, which would allow the family to pass effortlessly between the outdoor and indoor spaces. A sequence of terraces and roof gardens further enables the homeowners to enjoy different external spaces and zones at different times of day.

With all projects we are mindful that dwellings need to fit in fluidly with the properties surrounding them. We analysed the nature and buildings of the surrounding area and sourced local stone to match the original stone walls exposed around the site.

What We Did 

We designed contemporary additions of glass, canopies and an uninterrupted steel framework to create connectivity between the new, yet historically styled, walls. We made careful use of contrasting light and shade, texture and materials.

The rear of the property was completely transformed: originally a rather tall, overbearing, flat building, it is now an elevation of prominence and elegance which is pleasing on both horizontal and vertical axes.

We gathered design styles and ideas from all over the world, delivering a scheme that is nonetheless cohesive and at ease with its dramatic surroundings. The gradually diminishing width of form makes the property less dominating on the skyline, and the design creates a sense of the building flowing down into the garden and into the nature reserve below.

As a result, the house is now intrinsically connected to the outside through its roof terraces, balconies and stepped access.

Challenges

Access to the site was difficult because the property sits at nine metres below street level, surrounded by steep slopes and trees. We had to carefully plot and plan vehicular access along the winding, steep, private road of the estate; accurate schematic drawings were prepared to ensure cranes could deliver the large items such as steel and glass that were needed for construction.

Prior to work commencing we carried out test-runs to ensure that raw materials could be safely delivered. For certain fragile items we created a platform to bridge the half-metre gap between the bottom of the delivery truck boom and the ground level.

We agreed terms with Nottingham City Council for access to the project from across the park; we also involved the local community early on, engaging with neighbours on deliveries and crane movements to keep their inconvenience to a minimum. We also ensured regular maintenance of the road and removal of waste to further minimise disruption.

In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak meant we had to create additional health and safety protocols to ensure the project could continue and that the people working on it would feel safe.

Working Sustainably

As a south-facing property with a significant amount of glazing, the previous home would regularly overheat. The owners of the Feel Good project assumed they needed to invest in air conditioning; however, we were able to effectively reduce the average temperature of the house by using solar shading and strategically placed windows to create a natural stack ventilation system.

Furthermore, the creation of a sequence of terraces and roof gardens means the homeowners can now enjoy the external spaces and zones at different times of day.

Externally, the project also involved sculpting the lower part of the garden adjacent to the nature reserve. 19 houses are situated next to the nature reserve, but unfortunately the poor access meant that the community found it difficult to enjoy the nature on its doorstep. By resculpting the area next to the property we were able to enhance access to the nature reserve for the local community and the wider public. The owner of the property is also implementing a wildlife plan to further enhance this aspect of the local environment.

Feel Good All Round

Our clients were delighted with their re-modelled and extended home; it has made a significant difference to their lives and the way that they use the house. The surrounding community has also been very positively affected by the build, which has in turn improved their well-being.

See more of our Feel Good project

25 April 2022

Priory Road, Nottinghamshire

Priory House is a conversion of a bungalow into a two-storey stunning spacious family home in West Bridgford, a residential area in Nottinghamshire.

The Brief

We were appointed to design a spacious home with five generous bedrooms, a large open-plan living space with easy access onto the gardens as well as an office, cinema room and reading spaces. 

Although the existing plot suited the clients’ requirements, the single story layout did not meet their family’s needs.

The bungalow occupied a commanding corner on one of the most prestigious roads in the area. Earlier applications to demolish the building and create multiple dwellings had been refused due to the prominent location and the style of the designs proposed.

We worked closely with the clients and the planning department to design a striking, contemporary family home which wouldn’t overwhelm adjacent structures, sitting harmoniously in the street and retaining a synergy with the adjacent arts-and-crafts style buildings.

Challenges

The local planning authority were highly conscious of the key location of this corner plot, so any development had to be scaled appropriately. We anticipated initial resistance to a two-storey development, so we engaged with planners and liaised with neighbours at the earliest opportunity to ensure that our proposals were accepted as being in proportion and in keeping with the site.

Working Sustainably

We had to carefully plan our structural strategy due to the additional loads being applied to the existing building. We were able to avoid the need for underpinning, using instead a timber-framed design on the upper floor, along with individual pad foundations and a steel structure. This also meant we avoided tonnes of concrete being poured into the ground, making this a more sustainable solution.

A New Identity 

The strong design features and structure of the existing bungalow had to be carefully unpicked in order to successfully invest the property with its new identity.

The project had two key elevations to consider, each facing a different road. We worked with a neutral palette of charred black timber, white render and glass, keeping the main elevation simple while emphasising other elements to create character and focus.

The proportions of the first floor gables were designed to reference those of the surrounding buildings, and the steel-framed glazing and monochrome colour scheme further complemented the existing property.

The internal spaces retain much of the bungalow’s original layout, with new zones carved into the original footprint. The upper floor is accessed by a central feature staircase, and we used the existing spine walls to create a central corridor giving access to each bedroom. We retained the original doorway and created a striking new entrance hall.

Within the open plan kitchen and living space we created discreet activity zones: a reading corner and a dedicated relaxing space in the mezzanine above the sitting area.

The result is a contemporary, striking yet harmonious home perfectly designed for a family with growing children. 

See more of our Priory Road project

10 September 2021

A guide to Class Q barn conversions

The permitted development right known as Class Q was introduced to England’s planning policy in 2014. It allows for ‘prior approval’ to convert agricultural buildings to change their use, such as converting a barn into a residential home.

If the building meets the criteria of the policy, Class Q can be used in place of the full planning application process, which means that it may offer a more straightforward route for those looking to build a home in the countryside or in a conservation area.

Here’s an overview of Class Q and what it means for your barn conversion.

Class Q restrictions

There are several important restrictions that are taken into consideration when determining whether a building is eligible under Class Q.

The following is a simplified overview of these restrictions to give you an idea of what to expect.

Agricultural use

The building must have been used for agricultural purposes on March 20th 2013, or proof must be given that it was in use prior to this date, but not since. If the building was built or brought into use after this date, it must have been in agricultural use for 10 years.

An agricultural tenancy of the site cannot have been terminated within 1 year of the prior approval application, and for the purpose of Class Q, unless there is prior agreement between landlord and tenant that the site is no longer required for agricultural use.

Dwelling size

You can build up to three larger dwellings (over 100 sqm each), or up to five smaller dwellings (up to 100 sqm each).

However, the total floorspace of the larger building(s) cannot exceed 465 sqm. The maximum floorspace you can create is therefore 865 sqm, by building one large dwelling and four small dwellings, each at the largest permitted size.

Permitted works

Partial demolition may be permitted, although buildings cannot be extended in any way. Internal conversion is permitted and may include the addition of an independent first-floor mezzanine.

Structural works designed to allow the building to function as a house are permitted, such as installing or replacing windows, doors, roofs or exterior walls. However, the building must be structurally capable of functioning as a residence without structural additions or reinforcements. The replacement or installation of services such as electricity, gas, water and drainage are also permitted.

How to apply for Class Q

If your barn meets the criteria, you’ll need to submit a prior approval application before going ahead with any conversion work. There are two application options under Class Q.

The first option pertains to changing the use of the building from agricultural use to residential use as a dwellinghouse. The second option includes the development as well as any building operations necessary to convert the building into a Class C3 dwellinghouse. Generally speaking, you should use the second option for your application, unless you’re planning to only convert the interior of the barn without any external renovations.

You should receive a decision on your application within 56 days, which is roughly in line with the typical wait for planning permission.

Need help with a Class Q conversion?

If you’re planning a Class Q barn conversion and you’d like some support from an experienced architect, get in touch with Design Haus.

Whether you’re unsure about the eligibility of your property, you need help with the application process, or you’re looking for a complete architectural design service, we’re here to help.

3 September 2021

What are the architectural restrictions of a conservation area?

If you’re planning a new-build architectural project or extension to an existing building within a conservation area, you will find that you are subject to certain restrictions.

Let’s take a look at conservation areas and their restrictions.

What is a conservation area?

A conservation area is one that has been deemed to be of significant historic or architectural importance, and is therefore subject to certain restrictions to protect the integrity of the area.

Around 10,000 conservation areas have been designated in England since the initiative was first put in place in 1967. They are usually designated by the local planning authority and aim to preserve the distinctive character of a city, town, village or country estate.

Conservation areas are outlined in Part II of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, and should protect areas of “special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”.

Planning permission

As with any large-scale building or extension project, homeowners must submit a planning application to the local authority. Along with the standard restrictions, the proposal will also be subject to additional scrutiny regarding its suitability for the protected area.

As well as governing the style or architecture of the buildings themselves, the protection offered by conservation areas also extends to the layout of streets and roads, and the impact on trees and views. This means that homeowners and architects will have to consider many more aspects than in a non-protected area.

Architectural restrictions in conservation areas

As the aim of a conservation area is to ensure that new developments preserve or enhance the individuality of the location, there are certain restrictions that must be adhered to.

Minor changes

Minor developments that might otherwise not require planning permission, such as an extension, dormer loft conversion or recladding of the building exterior, may not be permitted.

Even small changes such as the addition of a satellite dish or the colour of the front door could be controlled by the local authority in a conservation area. As the aim is to protect the unique character of an area, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to what is and isn’t allowed.

Demolition

It’s a criminal offence to demolish a building without proper planning permission in a conservation area. You must get permission beforehand if your project requires removing some or all of the existing structure.

It’s not outside the realm of possibility for local councils to permit demolition in a conservation area, but they will usually try to keep the existing buildings as much as possible.

Trees

If you’re planning to cut down, lop or trim any trees in the area as part of your project, you must give the local council six weeks’ notice before undertaking any work.

During this time, the council’s planning department will take into account the impact of the trees on the local area, and whether they are an integral part of its character. Should any tree be deemed deserving of protection, the council can create a tree preservation order (TPO) to prevent cutting down or modification.

Contemporary architecture

As Section 69 of the 1990 Planning Act specifies that developments must “preserve or enhance” the area, this doesn’t necessarily mean that contemporary designs are a no-no.

Where a more modern approach could be seen to enhance the area, you’ve got a good case for approval. However, areas with a strong architectural identity are much less likely to accept an application that is not in keeping with the existing buildings.

For the best chance of obtaining planning permission, it’s worth speaking to the local authority and using their input to inform your design decisions. You might even be able to combine both modern and traditional architectural elements to achieve the best of both worlds.

Work with an experienced architect

Working with an architect who is experienced in working to the restrictions of conservation areas is a great way to improve the chances of having your application approved.

James Brindley, Head Architect at Design Haus, has worked on many planning applications and architectural projects in conservation areas, giving you the confidence that each design decision will be made with the success of the application in mind.

To discuss a project in a conservation area, please get in touch and James will be happy to help.

3 July 2021

How do you build a Paragraph 79 house?

If you’ve considered self building a house in the countryside, you might be put off by the strict planning permission requirements that can prevent your dream from becoming a reality.

However, a clause known as Paragraph 79 might be the answer to getting permission granted even on a heritage site. Read on to find out more.

What is Paragraph 79?

Paragraph 79 is an exemption clause in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Also known as the country house exemption clause, Paragraph 79 allows certain exceptional designs to be approved where their location would normally cause planning permission to be denied. It is often a factor when applying to build isolated houses on green belts or within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where the construction of buildings is often incongruous with the surroundings.

The reason for this exemption is to allow for continual innovation and development within architecture. In particular, it helps to promote finding newer and better ways to make homes that are sustainable and environmentally friendly.

What criteria must a design meet?

In order to be approved, a proposal must meet some stringent criteria. These include specifications that the design must:

  • be of exceptional quality

  • be truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture

  • help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas

  • significantly enhance its immediate setting

  • be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area

You can’t expect to meet these criteria without thinking outside the box. As such, pursuing a Paragraph 79 house isn’t for the easily intimidated. It’s also important to note that you might not be able to build the home of your dreams exactly as you imagined it; you’ll need to be open minded and ready to roll with the punches.

How do I apply for Paragraph 79 exemption?

Getting approval isn’t an easy process, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be granted an exemption. In fact, it’s actually extremely rare, with only about 6 granted per year.

Even using a previously approved project as inspiration isn’t a fool-proof tactic, as one of the stipulations is outstanding innovation. Copying an existing design will therefore make it much less likely to be accepted.

To get an exemption, you’ll need to work alongside a team of specialists with a proven track record for architectural innovation and sympathetic design. Ideally, you want someone on your side who had faced the Paragraph 79 gauntlet before.

Paragraph 79 architects

With experience applying for Paragraph 79 exemption and creating unique architectural designs that both complement and improve their surroundings, Design Haus’s lead architect James Brindley is the perfect choice to head up your country house design.

Get in touch to discuss your project and to pick James’ brain.

30 November 2020

Do I need an architect?

If you’re looking to make changes to your existing home, you may be wondering whether you need an architect.

While many people believe that architects are only necessary for large projects such as designing buildings from scratch, they’re extremely useful for smaller home improvements, too.

How do I know if I need an architect?

Strictly speaking, there’s no legal requirement to hire an architect for a project. However, an architect is able to create designs, optimise space, handle project admin, manage your budget and ensure that the final build meets all necessary regulations.

There are four main types of project that especially benefit from the input of an architect:

1. Ideas and big-picture thinking

If you’re not sure what you want, or you have ideas but don’t know how to implement them, working with an architect is invaluable.

Not only will an architect be able to give you some insight into how much your project should cost and how long it will take, they can provide practical, creative and unique solutions.

Tell your architect what you’re looking to achieve and they’ll give you options on how to do it. Whether that’s bringing more light into your home, creating more space or incorporating a particular material, an architect has the expertise to turn your vision into reality.

2. Extensions and conversions

As these are significant additions to your home, discussing an extension or conversion with an architect will help to ensure the best outcome.

Not only can an architect help you to design the new addition, they can advise where best to locate it to ensure the maximum amount of light or to provide the most natural flow from room to room.

In particular, if your addition offers challenges such as tight spaces, unusual shapes or changes in floor level, it’s best to bring an architect on board.

3. Changing layouts and removing walls

If you’re thinking about moving or removing interior walls to open up a space, or adding or moving doors and windows, you’ll want to work with an architect.

Changing the layout of your home isn’t as simple as knocking down walls and rebuilding them elsewhere; there are a lot of technical considerations to protect the structural integrity of the building.

As well as advising you which changes are safe and practical, an architect can help you to create a space that works. How doors and windows interact with a room, and how the space is utilised can make or break its function and enjoyability.

4. Obtaining planning permission

Architects know which projects require planning permission, and how to apply for it. This can be a complicated and time-consuming process to do by yourself, so handing it over to an expert will allow you to relax.

Your architect can fill out all the paperwork and liaise with the council on your behalf, handling any necessary changes quickly and efficiently. This will help you to complete your build project on time and minimise the chance of rejection.

when to hire an architect

Here are some common household remodelling projects that would benefit from the input of an architect:

  • Extensions

  • Conservatories

  • Loft conversions

  • Barn conversions

  • Moving the location of a bathroom or kitchen

  • Changing the position of or knocking down interior walls

  • Installing a swimming pool

  • Large projects with multiple contractors

  • Projects that require planning permission

While smaller jobs might not require an architect, they are often well worth their fees to ensure a smooth-running project.

Do you need an architect?

If your project does require an architect, then get in touch to discuss your project and turn it from a dream into reality.

13 May 2019

Permitted Development: An Update to the Rules

As of May 29 2019, a temporary change to the law that increased the size of certain home improvements has become permanent.

Permitted Development Rights, introduced in 1948, are a set of limits imposed on any residential property improvements that allow single-storey extensions, loft conversions, smaller double-storey extensions and a multitude of others to take place without the strict and time-consuming red tape associated with planning permission.

In 2013, the scope of these limits was increased. In the case of single-storey extensions, the limit was doubled. There was however, a catch. This increase was only supposed to be temporary and was set to expire by May 29 2019.by making the changes permanent, the government has paved the way for more home owners to make substantial improvements rather than move to a new house.

It is worth noting that permitted development rights are not universal; designated areas such as national parks and conservation areas still require planning permission. In addition, some local authorities have chosen not to extend permitted development beyond May.

For the majority of people though, May 29 has been a good day, and has opened up the possibility of future developments. If you’re thinking about a building project in your home, get in touch.  You don’t have to decide straight away- remember, an initial consultation with our Lead Architect is free!

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Design Haus Architecture
2A Fleeman Grove
West Bridgford
Nottingham

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