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In 2004, the AJ led a acknowledged industry-backed attack to stop the Labour government auctioning planning advice that accustomed abandoned houses in the countryside area the architectonics was of ‘outstanding’ architectonics quality.
The ‘countryside house’ article – again PPG 7, after PPS7 – is now anointed in branch 55 of the National Planning Action Framework (introduced in March 2012) and charcoal one of the few items of planning law that absolutely demands aberrant architectural standards.
The architects’ get-out-of-jail agenda for rural homes will anon become the new branch 79 in the revised planning framework – a change in name alone it seems.
Since 2012 there accept been 66 approvals – equating to an approval amount of 58%
Until now, no close abstracts has anytime been calm on how the absolution has been applied; absolutely the government has no statistics on the policy’s impact.
So London-based convenance Flat Bark, which has itself won approval for bisected a dozen homes through the clause, conducted its own analysis through a alternation of Freedom of Advice bids, unpicking the abounding decisions fabricated by bounded authorities aback branch 55 was alien six years ago.
Its allegation acrylic a account of aberration and confusion, with advanced disparities in the way bounded authorities apparatus the policy.
So how can architects advance their affairs of acceptable approval beneath the article and are added authoritative changes bare to help them?
Barrow abode pond beheld crop
Barrow house, Lincolnshire, by id architectonics (approved project)
More than two-thirds of the bounded authorities in England and Wales (226 out of 327) responded to requests for advice on the branch 55 applications received. The numbers are baby – alone 113 recorded applications (see map bottom).
Furthermore, the abstracts shows aloof 66 approvals (59 at committee, seven on appeal) in these authorities aback 2012. About over these six years there were 42 refusals and a added bristles aloof – equating to an approval amount of 58 per cent.
This is way beneath the 87.5 per cent approval amount appear in the government’s latest abstracts for all-embracing residential applications.
Each case has its own altered circumstances, according to Flat Case administrator Nick Newman, and some architects accommodated the aerial architectonics accepted added generally than others.
For instance Jonathan Hendry Architects has bagged approval for bisected a dozen schemes about Grimsby and the Lincolnshire Wolds, while ID Architectonics has permission for two country houses in the same area.
Despite this, says Newman, ‘It is apparently fair to say that branch 55 is actuality activated abnormally in altered places. Some authorities accept let through absolutely a lot, admitting some assume to abolish them out of hand.’
Robert Adam of Classicist convenance Adam Architecture, which has won a clamp of approvals both beneath branch 55 and its above guises, says: ‘Many bounded authorities don’t appetite you to be accomplishing this. You accept got to cull out all the stops to actuate them.’
The use of a architectonics analysis console increases the affairs of approval
The aboriginal barrier block to an approval is generally bottomward to the diction of branch 55 which demands that schemes should alone be accustomed if they are of ‘exceptional quality’.
Council planning admiral abundantly abridgement the ability to adjudge what counts as aberrant design, according to Richard Coutts, administrator at Baca Architects. ‘Most planning departments do not feel adequate to accomplish decisions on architectonics on their own,’ he says.
As a result, abounding authorities alarm on the abetment of a architectonics analysis console to scrutinise their branch 55 applications.
James Burrell, administrator at Burrell & Mistry which is about to alpha on a branch 55 abode in Ewhurst, Surrey, says: ‘People anticipate architectonics is subjective; it isn’t really. Bodies who accept the aberration amid acceptable and bad architectonics are in a acceptable position to adjudicator what is exceptional.’
Studio case orchard abode archetypal plan
Orchard Abode (model plan), Hatton, Cheshire, by Flat Case (approved project)
Newman says Flat Bark’s analysis indicates the captivation of a architectonics analysis console does access the affairs of approval. According to its findings, planning was accustomed for 25 of the 32 schemes that had been architectonics reviewed, with two awaiting at the time of the analysis and bristles angry down. This represents a abundant college approval amount of 78 per cent.
Yet alike aback the able architectonics analysis console comes bottomward on your side, there is still no agreement it will be listened to, it seems. Writing for the AJ aftermost year, a balked Wendy Perring of PAD Flat batten out about the accommodation by the South Downs National Park Ascendancy to bandy out one of the firm’s schemes (pictured below), admitting a aglow address from the architectonics analysis team. ‘Following a diffuse and difficult planning process, the bounded ascendancy abandoned the panel’s advocacy and banned planning,’ she wrote. ‘Of course, it could be argued that the architectonics analysis console had fabricated a aberration … After all, adorableness is subjective, is it not? But to booty this attitude implies that several award-winning architects, mural architects and academics do not apperceive what is exceptional.’
Pad flat parsonage barn (4)
Parsonage Barn, South Downs National Park, by PAD Flat (rejected project)
Paragraph 55 schemes can additionally win approval by proving that the design, if not ‘outstanding’, is ‘innovative’ – addition appellation whose acceptation can be adamantine to pin down.
Rob Hughes, arch accomplice at Hughes Planning, who has formed on a cardinal of branch 55 schemes, says: ‘The antecedent planning action account acclimated the chat “groundbreaking” but in reality, actual few things are groundbreaking. The addition generally comes in the aggregate of absolute techniques that ability not accept been acclimated calm afore to accomplish a architectonics that is as activity able as it can be.’
But addition doesn’t necessarily accept to chronicle to technology. Adam says that on one of his contempo branch 55 schemes, a architectonics console was won over because the arrangement was abundantly congenital from abstracts on the armpit it was built.
‘The armchair of the console said that it was avant-garde because we were animating article we had chock-full accomplishing and appliance it in a avant-garde context,’ he says.
A lot of bodies get afraid up on the architectonics but they charge to pay absorption to the landscape
A architectonics that is accounted ‘outstanding or innovative’ is not enough, however. There is a added hurdle: a branch 55 home charge additionally ‘significantly enhance its actual setting’.
According to abounding architects contacted by the AJ, it can be adamantine to actuate some planners that architectonics annihilation whatsoever in an accessible acreage can enhance the landscape.
Perring, however, argues: ‘If architectonics is contextual, it can accomplish you accept and acknowledge the mural in a altered way. That is what acceptable architectonics should be.’
This accent of mural architectonics in branch 55 approval is ascendant in acceptable over the planners, according to Adam.
‘A lot of bodies get afraid up on the building,’ he says, ‘but they charge to pay absorption to the mural – the mural is abundant bigger than the building.’
Country abode in surrey
Country abode in Surrey by Burrell & Mistry (approved project)
As a result, abounding architects apply the casework of a mural artist to assignment on this allotment of the design.
Hughes says: ‘The acute affair with para 55 is that it requires a accord of disciplines. In my acquaintance the schemes that tend to get through planning are the ones area the artist employs a able aggregation of experts in their fields. I would consistently apostle a landscape consultant.’
Nevertheless, the purpose of the agriculture should not be to adumbrate the new home from view.
‘We anticipate mural architectonics is actual important in agreement of authoritative the architectonics fit correctly,’ says Newman. ‘It shouldn’t be acclimated to blind the architectonics – it should be commutual to the architectonics rather than the primary element’.
This was accustomed at a planning board area Burrell presented affairs for Burrell & Mistry’s branch 55 home.
‘After comments from the arch planning officer, we had included accouterment for a awning of copse to absorber the house,’ recalls Burrell. ‘Half a mile abroad was addition home endemic by one of the councillors. At the planning committee, he stood up and said: “I appetite you to abolish the copse – I appetite to bandy aback my curtains and see the appearance of this admirable building.”’
The success or abortion of a branch 55 appliance does generally blow on the claimed attitudes of planners and councillors. The eventually any abeyant abhorrence is best up, the better, advises Anthony Hudson, administrator at Hudson Architects.
Baca Architects’ flood-proof ‘country abode clause’ ancestors home in Maylandsea, Essex [approved 2017]
Baca Architects’ flood-proof ‘country abode clause’ ancestors home in Maylandsea, Essex [approved 2017]
‘It is a gamble,’he says. ‘Generally, from the antecedent access you get a faculty of area you are going. Those aboriginal two affairs are the ones that accomplish the applicant anticipate “yes we are activity somewhere” or “it is a complete decay of time”.’
Many in the profession continued for added bendability amid bounded authorities to accord added authoritativeness to audience – who can absorb up to £100,000 aloof to get to planning.
Coutts adds: ‘Planning departments charge to be accustomed an overarching conference that gives a bright analogue of thresholds the barrio charge to canyon and again appropriately the architectonics analysis panels charge to allotment acknowledgment belletrist to accomplish abiding there is some bendability in their decisions.’
But Hughes disagrees, saying: ‘Personally, I anticipate it is absolutely a accurately worded action and is alive well. In cases area proposals are not acceptable enough, again the schemes aren’t accepting through.’
However, the broader abstracts appearance the article is not an accessible aperture to aggressive architectonics beyond the nation’s blooming belt land.
More than any added affectionate of application, the after-effects can generally be bottomward to the peculiarities of anniversary authority. For country houses the planning action still seems little abbreviate of a coin-toss.