Lloyd Bore Landscape and Ecology Ltd, have developed a scheme for a unique family home in the East Sussex countryside

First iteration. Image credit: Lloyd Bore
First iteration. Image credit: Lloyd Bore

The proposals are to be submitted to the Local Planning Authority under national planning policy PPS7 at the end of March 2012, after two years of design development, meetings and presentations. The sensitive nature of the site’s location and the rigorous requirements of PPS7 require a careful design approach that responds to the landscape character and enhances the local setting.

The site, near Flimwell, East Sussex, in the High Weald AONB, was once part of a farm, which is now derelict, with rusting barns and a former quarry situated centrally within the site. It is flanked to the north and east by an incised ghyll and ancient woodland, and has extensive views to the south across rolling countryside with breath-taking views.

Lloyd Bore says that a landscape-led approach has been crucial, where siting, understanding the local working history of the area, and making best use of the site’s unique features have led to a sympathetic and well-informed narrative.

The new house is to act as a focal point in this naturally defined local landscape. It is not intended to be dominant or assertive, but has been carefully positioned to take full advantage of the views available. The home’s layout makes reference to the existing U shaped arrangement of farm buildings and will be constructed using the highest-rated sustainable and energy efficient materials, in order to achieve Level 5 in the Code for Sustainable Homes (the highest attainable given its rural location).

The design has evolved through collaboration between the client, architect, planning consultant, the High Weald AONB and the South Eastern Regional Design Panel. Consultation with the High Weald AONB and the Energy Centre has also achieved a narrative between the working history of the landscape and the proposed residential use of the site, resulting in an additional two hectares of sweet chestnut coppice (this will be harvested on rotation to meet over half of the home’s energy requirements), and the retention of the majority of the site as hay meadow. Hedgerows currently in decline or absent are to be reinforced or replaced, and new oak trees will be planted as a long term contribution to local landscape character.

The former quarry is to be converted to a sunken garden,is integrated into the design of the house, allowing direct access to it, while the garden is designed to provide seclusion for the family without compromising the working aesthetic of the rural landscape. The garden design incorporates a series of terraces, allowing the client to grow their own produce and ornamental plants, and wheel a barrow from the top of the garden to bottom. The lawn at the bottom allows for entertaining guests, making the most of the late summer afternoon sun.

The house’s south-facing terrace is dramatic. Tall, clipped yew hedges project the lines of the architecture of the house, a clever mechanism affording privacy between bedrooms, while creating a series of theatre wings, framing the breathtaking views to the south from the main living areas.

 

Setting the bar – PPS7

The standards set out by PPS7 for planning permission are high indeed. It states: “Very occasionally the exceptional quality and innovative nature of the design of a proposed, isolated new house may provide this special justification for granting planning permission. Such a design should be truly outstanding and ground-breaking, for example, in its use of materials, methods of construction or its contribution to protecting and enhancing the environment, so helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas. The value of such a building will be found in its reflection of the highest standards in contemporary architecture, the significant enhancement of its immediate setting and its sensitivity to the defining characteristics of the local area.”

Lloyd Bore commented: “These are exceptionally high standards and local authorities seeking special justification for granting planning permission are provided with little guidance in what might constitute ‘truly outstanding’ and ‘ground-breaking’ design.”

In recent years, Lloyd Bore have undertaken landscape assessment and design work for two other PPS7 projects in Kent – ‘Flow House’ and ‘Ewell Manor’, both of which were granted planning permission, and the practice is currently working on two further PPS7 projects.

Design Team: Julian Bore and Eleanor Atkinson of Lloyd Bore Landscape and Ecology Ltd; Shane Jell of Sub Rosa Architecture; Alan Bishop of Bishop Consultancy (planning consultant).

 

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