Permission Granted for Major Residential Extension in Watford
Our practice was pleased to assist our colleagues at CH Architects in achieving permission for a residential extension at a property within Watford Borough. The proposal would create an additional bedroom in the current loft void of the property and an additional bathroom. The proposed design added a pitched roofed extension at the front of the property to accommodate a new stair to the loft. The roof form was adjusted from a hip to gable end to accommodate sufficient roof height for the proposed rooms. Two new dormers were introduced onto the rear, a velux style window is included on the rear roof slope and single circular window within front elevation to allow light onto the stairwell and landing area. All the proposed materials would match that of the existing dwelling.
Previous pre-application advice considered that the proposed front hip to gable extension would not be in keeping with the requirements of the Residential Design Guide SPD 2014 or character of the surrounding area. As presented, the proposal would, it was advised, result in refusal on the basis of poor design.
Impact Planning was subsequently instructed to consider the proposal and pre-application response. Following an analysis of the character of the area, the variety and types of domestic architecture within the vicinity of the site, it was considered that the pre-application response was unreasonable in regarding the design as unacceptable.
IPS prepared a robust Planning Statement to support the application submission, the design of the proposed development remaining unaltered since the submission of the pre-application request. The Statement successfully argued that while the proposal would change the appearance of the property, the proposal was of a unique design and through examination of the surrounding street scene there was clearly no common vernacular and style of dwelling within the locality. There was no uniformity of design within the streetscape reflecting the fact that the plots were developed individually over a period of 25 years.
Furthermore, within the pre-application response the officer prescriptively applied the guidance of the SPD in their advice; recommending that the application would be refused due to a generic presumption against the alteration of roof forms without due consideration to the context of the site and surrounding vernacular and style. Such guidance, when applied prescriptively, would contradict the policies of the NPPF, specifically paragraphs 59 and 60. Notwithstanding the recent changes to the NPPF, whilst national policy supports high quality design it requires local authorities to produce design policies which should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail. Policies should, in addition, not attempt to impose architectural styles. The guidance of the SPD, when applied overly prescriptively, would therefore be at odds with the NPPF.
The case officer for the application agreed with our approach and despite no change to the scheme design submitted at the pre-application and application stages, the application was approved. The case officers’ delegated report concluded that:
‘…overall it is considered that the proposed extensions to the roof maintain the proportions and aesthetic quality of the property and do not case any harm to the street scene maintaining the pleasant and complimentary quality of the varied buildings in the road.’
IPS assists a variety of professionals with planning advice regarding all scales of proposals, and is happy to assist in preparing robust planning cases to compliment planning applications. Please contact one of our team to discuss our experience or your project further.