One of the skills we pride ourselves on at RA Architects is our ability to help clients overcome planning constraints to gain a successful application outcome.
Each project we work on has individual planning considerations, however we thought it may provide an interesting insight to blog about one of our more contentious applications and the process undertaken by our colleague Cai to help secure planning approval for our private client.
The Vale of Glamorgan (Vale of Glamorgan Council.)
The Project Brief:
A change of use scheme where our client was looking to convert two retail units (one of which had lain dormant for several years) into a single residential dwelling.
Why did the Council recommend refusal?
The Vale of Glamorgan have a well-meaning policy (LDP policy MG15 as detailed below) which protects commercial units in local retail centres being converted to flats; however conversion to a residential dwelling is still permissible if it can be proven that the retail unit is no longer commercially viable.
For our client to be allowed to convert the property they needed to provide clear evidence that the shop units weren’t commercially viable. Our client submitted proof that they had tried to market the property for sale as retail units for several years but were unsuccessful.
One of the planners felt that the evidence submitted by our clients was not sufficient and suggested that the property could be rented or that our client could consider changing the use to other retail, commercial or community type services. The council questioned why there was not a ‘For Sale’ sign outside the property.
Our client responded that whilst every effort was made to market the building they did not agree to a ‘For Sale’ sign outside the property due to the potential negative impact it may have for the business of the client’s wife who ran a cake company from the larger unit.
Once the case officer confirmed that the evidence submitted by our client was deemed insufficient and the planners were going to recommend a refusal our clients called the application to planning committee.
What happens at a Vale of Glamorgan planning committee meeting?
The planning authority present the application and their recommendations and the applicant or agent (in this case Cai,) speak in favour of the scheme. The councillors then vote whether they wish to uphold the planners recommendation.
In this example, Cai explained the submitted evidence and also emphasised that the retail units were situated on the periphery of the retail centre, and were not a prominent frontage in the retail centre. As neighbouring retail units included a newsagents, pharmacy and Tesco express, Cai suggested that the change of use scheme would not affect the day to day needs of the local community.
The Councillors of the planning committee however upheld the planner’s recommendation and refused the application.
What can be done after planning has been refused?
Cai discussed the project with his clients and together they decided to appeal the planning decision. The case was passed to an independent, senior appointed planning inspectorate who would make a final decision. Cai wrote an appeal statement comprehensively explaining why he believed the application met the policy criteria.
What did the planning inspectorate find?
The planning inspectorate concluded that there was no evidence to suggest the marketing of the property had been insufficient and accepted our clients’ reasoning for the lack of a physical ‘For Sale’ board. The inspector also dismissed the council’s idea that the property could be tenanted if not sold. Commenting that ‘prolonging the period of vacancy of [the] retail units with no certainty that a sale could be achieved, would have a negative impact on the vibrancy of the centre.’
Finally, in consideration of all points raised by The Vale of Glamorgan council, alongside the evidence submitted by ourselves and our client the inspector approved the application.
If you are undertaking a project and would like to receive some advice regarding planning permissions, please do get in touch. Call the office on 01633 744144 or email email@example.com to arrange a free consultation.
Architect: Richard Andrews Architects, project overseen by Associate Lewis Shaw
Works Undertaken: Feasibility and planning, detailed design and tender plus contract and project overseeing.
Client: Private Domestic Client
Cost of Work: £100,000+
Contactors: TLC Building Services
To create a contemporary single story rear extension, with enough room to accommodate a kitchen, dining space and family area. Also to add a side extension to make room for an office and library space.
Unique Design Features – Once finished the exterior to the property showcases a beautiful white render contrasted against timber cladding. A wrap around window on the corner of the office side extension enhance natural light. Crittall style doors frame the view from kitchen to garden and allow a smooth transition from inside to out and the addition of skylights and high placed windows spanning the width of the extension bring a bright and airy family space.
Our clients contracted TLC Building Services to complete the work with ourselves overseeing the contract administration and project management.
There is still a tiny bit more work to do before the propery is complete (namely applying the crisp white exterior.) However already we can see what an improvement the new living space has made for our clients. If you're thinking of embarking on a similar project, we'd love to get involved. Contact the team on 01633 744144 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our clients approached us looking to create a sympathetic double storey extension to their cottage home. Having already being in possession of a design they were happy with, we were instructed to oversee the project works. We implemented the RIBA domestic works contract between our clients and their chosen contractor, Fern Bay Properties, ensuring over five seperate site visits that all work was being completed safely and adhered to both building regulations and the client's original plans.
We regularly undertake a range of commissions varying in scale and complexity. We can take on 'Full Service Appointments' which run from conception to completion and we are also happy to assist clients in any isolated project stages. If you would like to talk to us regarding your own scheme, please contact the team today to book a free consultation.
Following the Newport City Summit 2018 meeting that was recently held at The Celtic Manor Resort, our director Richard was interviewed by new South East Wales publication 'The Business' to discuss how we would approach the major changes soon to come to our city! Great magazine, highly worth a read!
CLICK TO VIEW>>>
Following the last post in our ‘Design in winter / build in summer’ campaign, we’re back with the second instalment. Showcasing one of our favourite residential extensions from the past year as a case study, we talk you through our three stages of work with step by step images from the initial design stage right through to completion.
THE BRIEF: To create a new single story extension to the rear of the existing property for family room / kitchen space.
Stage one – Planning & Designing
Our client wanted to create an airy and light cooking/ entertaining space that would maximise their views over the surrounding countryside. Following collaborative design meetings, we came up with a scheme that encompassed a large kitchen extension. We allowed room for an island to act as a casual seating area and to provide further food preparation space – with a more formal dining area to the side. Opposite, we proposed a large orangery with an oversized roof light over a bright, relaxed, open plan entertaining area.
Stage Two – Detailed Design and Tender
Whilst Stage one is all about feasibility, planning and design – where we work with our client to produce a number of design options for their project and supporting them through any planning applications, stage 2 is where we apply our detailed understanding of construction and regulations to the drawings, to provide a comprehensive package for builders to work from that meets all the requirements set out in building regulations.
For this project we administered a tender package to several building contractors to get the best price and quality for the build works. In this instance our client chose to work with Tim and his team at TLC Building Services.
Stage Three – Contract and Project Overseeing
With TLC Building services now on board, we administered a contract between them and our client. This contract was based on our detailed drawings, our understanding of construction laws and contract negotiation. We oversaw all the building works onsite to ensure the work was delivered in line with our drawings, regulations and was the standard allowed for in the original tender.
Progression of work…
The building contractors began to dig the foundations for the new extension to which the drainage, pipework and any other services needed to be laid. All work required signing off from a buildings control inspector, following which the concrete footing needed to be poured into place and again approved by building control.
Next, the builders turned their attention to damp-proofing. This can be achieved in several ways, such as through a damp-proof course, damp-proof membranes or integral damp proofing. Following this step is an exciting stage where we see the framework of the new build coming to life. Below we can see the creation of the block and brickwork, with wall ties fixing the walls together. The contractor was busy making sure that the cavity walls were insulated and that the lintels for doors and window spaces were fitted correctly. Following which the builder began to assemble the internal walls and lay a floor screed.
At this point the contractor constructed the roof structure and completed the rafters which were fitted with membrane and covered with our client's choice of material – roofing tiles. The contractor also started work on fascia’s, guttering, drainpipes and soffits.
The next step was to add the doors and windows into the framework, complete the internal plumbing and electrics. It was at this stage where stud walls were erected and internal insulation fitted before plastering. Following this stage, the new kitchen and flooring was also completed. Our client chose to render the exterior of the property to match beautifully with the original part of the house.
With building work completed our clients received a final certificate of approval from the building control officer. After which all that was left to do was relax and enjoy their new space!
What our client thought about the process;
‘I found RA Architects through a Google search and took a chance as the business was pretty new. I was immediatel
y impressed by Richard's profession alism and his ideas. He listened to how we wanted to use our extension and came back with a number of options to talk through.
Once we had agreed a design and a cost Richard and Lewis took away all the pain – they drew up the planning application produced the tender documents and sourced a number of contractors for us to meet and submit a tender. It was reassuring to know that the people tendering were approved by Richard and had all the necessary insurances and track record in place. We decided upon TLC Building Services in Cardiff and we couldn’t have been happier. Tim and his team were the perfect fit for us and we would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone. They worked tirelessly to build an extension we love and did so in good humor- they were a joy to have around. Richard and Lewis visited at regular intervals to inspect the project, again taking away any stress.
Throughout the process RA Architects exceeded our expectations and I will use them again for any future projects I undertake.’
We genuinely love this type of work as to make someone’s quality of life better, truly is the passion behind our practice. If you have a similar scheme in mind please do not hesitate to contact us on 01633 744144 to book a free 1 hour consultation.
As we are heading into winter it is the perfect time to start planning and designing your project ready for building work to commence in the spring and summer. We have complied a series of blog posts to equip and support you with as much information as possible through this process as part of our #designinwinterbuildinsppring campaign. Enjoy part one of our latest read, explaining why extensions are not as simple as you may think…
We are often approached by clients looking to maximise the space in their property through the addition of an extension. Whilst it may sound simple enough, there are many important considerations to be made when joining a new structure to an existing one and it isn’t always an easy process when each project is different with a unique set of challenges.
Architects need to determine how a potential extension might impact upon what is already existing at the property, even if it is not always immediately visible. Drainage is a prime example of this – architects need to check the position of drains, if they are private or shared, they will also look to see if there is a need to contact the water board for a build over sewer agreement.
There are other types of considerations to be made also. For example, will a potential extension be a concern for neighbouring buildings? Will the extension obscure the view for next door? Will the proposed window placements be a cause for complaint? If the extension is to be built astride a boundary wall then a party wall agreement will need to be in place.
Architects will also think about how the local planning office may respond if the proposed works extend beyond permitted rights development, they will also be checking if there are certain legal permissions that need to be adhered to. Whenever there is a modification to an existing building, then there is a need to apply for building regulations in order to obtain Building Control approval. This means submitting a set of drawings to the local authority and having on-site inspections by the Building Control Officer during the build.
Is the site within a conservation area or an area of ecological interest? If the development is within a conservation area then the planning application will need to be assessed by Conservation Officers as well as going through the usual local authority procedures, where a Design and Access statement explaining the designer's intended design ethos needs to be submitted also.
Are there physical concerns with the build? Will certain materials need to be used or avoided? How will the new structure attach to the old building in a way that will ensure it is watertight, insulated and sound proofed?
These are just a few examples in which an architect may need to examine, plan and research in detail prior to the fun part of actually designing your build. Your architect will be able to advise you of the individual concerns for your property at initial visits and solutions for how they will overcome these obstacles.
Once architects physically find a way to connect the new to the old, whilst designing a structure that both addresses potential challenges and at the same time satisfying the client’s design brief, they then need to be able to communicate all this information across to the contracted builders.
So as you can see there is a vast amount of work that goes in behind the scenes before a builder even steps foot on site. Our very own practice has great experience with extensions for both residential and commercial schemes and we currently offer a free 1 hour consultation to discuss new projects.
Part two of this post, will showcase a recently completed residential extension from the design brief right through to the completed home. It is a great opportunity to become familiarised with the stages of work involved, get an idea of how we looked to overcome the challenges for this particular scheme and see through a series of photographs how our client’s ideas are refined and brought to life. We also have a testimonial from our client explaining how she found the process of working with us. Packed full of top tips and advice it is not to be missed.
You can keep up to date of our latest news and blogs here and please feel free to contact the team on 01633 744144 to discuss your own project.
You're embarking on a new project and are about to meet your architect to discuss your ideas. But before you do, we advise taking time before your initial meeting to gather your thoughts about the project and help set a clear brief from which your architect can work.
"The ultimate success of your project depends on the quality of your brief, your ability to clearly describe for your architect the requirements and functions of your building, and proposed methods of operation and management." RIBA, (Royal Institute of British Architects)
There are a few questions listed below which you may wish to think about. The answers should be able to help form a good starting point for your architect to design from.
What do you wish to achieve with your project?
Are you looking for a commercial new build or an extension to an existing home, maybe you are embarking on a leisure or educational scheme? Whatever the project it is useful to sum up simply what it is you are setting out to do.
(If applicable) Think about your current building.
Take a moment to list what works, what you like about it and similarly what doesn’t work and what you wish to change.
Who will be using the building and why?
For a residential home you will need to take into consideration the residents (plus any pets). For a public building it is useful to have a think about who would be visiting the space and why. For example, a library may be used by both staff working at the building and different members of the general public for study or community activities.
How will the rooms in the buildings be used?
Keeping with the library as an example, we may find the building may require staff rooms, community areas, spaces for children to learn and play, plus study areas in both individual and communal settings. A home environment may have different needs, would your family prefer open plan living? Think about your storage needs, what will you need to store in each space?
What do you need to prioritise?
For example will your property need to be wheelchair friendly? Do you work from home and need a quiet space to concentrate? Communicate to your architect what your property must have. It is also helpful to note anything that your property needs to fit, for example, if you wish for your super king bed to sit comfortably in your newly built bedroom, you need to let your architect know at the start. Likewise if you are passionate about creating an ultra-sustainable build, now is the time to discuss ways to achieve it.
Do you have a timescale in which to complete the work?
Your architect can discuss this with your contractor when your project goes to tender.
What is your budget?
It’s always best to be transparent about how much you wish to spend, so that your architect can maximise the design accordingly.
TOP TIP – Get registered on Pinterest! Share and gather images with your architect to help refine your design style and easily communicate likes and dislikes!
We offer a free one hour consultation where we meet with you at your property to discuss your ideas. Now that we are heading into winter it is the perfect time to start designing and planning. Just think, by spring next year your build will be under way and by summer the end result could be better than you could have ever imagined!
There are a few questions that architect practices get asked on a regular basis. So to help our clients become better informed we’ve decided to talk about our most frequently asked questions, starting with the most common; ‘Will my build need planning permission?’
Every project undertaken by ourselves is assessed on an individual basis as to whether or not planning permission is required and it is something we can advise further in our initial consultation, but here’s some information to help gauge whether your project is likely to require planning or not.
What is planning permission and when might you need it?
In simple terms, planning permission is a request (usually to your local planning office) to carry out a specific type of building work. It ideally needs to be granted before any work begins. So whether you are thinking of adding an extension to an existing home, creating a build from scratch or maybe even looking to change the use of your building, you may require planning permission.
However you can also perform certain types of work without the need to apply for planning at all, as these fall under the category of ‘permitted development rights.’
Permitted development rights, derive from a general planning permission issued by the government and can be more restrictive in designated areas of the country – For example, if your project resided in a national park.
(It is important to stress that permitted development rights, differ between commercial, and residential properties. With differences between domestic homes such as houses and apartments again. So it is especially important to seek expert advice prior to starting a build).
Where to find out more?
With so many different factors it can be tricky to know where to start finding out the correct information for your build.
To investigate the particular planning constraints for your project we recommend the following;
Speak to your local planning department - The government have given the main responsibility of planning to local council authorities, if you have a specific question regarding your proposal your local planning dept. should be able to help answer it.
Look online – There are several reliable online resources you can turn to in order to find out more information regarding planning; most notably planningportal.co.uk. Here you can find comprehensive information (including several interactive guides) relating to the planning constraints of properties in Wales (as well as England).
You can also review documents on the Welsh Government’s planning policy by clicking the link below;
Chat with us – You can always utilise our team’s knowledge. As experts in our field and thoroughly up to date with local planning we will happily talk you through your proposal. Call us today on 01633 744144.
As you may have seen on social media, we were recently visited by Rob of Glazing Vision who gave a great seminar on how to ‘Unlock Light, Air and Space’ through roof lights. We were left really inspired by the talk and thought we’d pass on our top three reasons why we encourage the use of roof lights in our projects too!
REASON 1: THE DAYLIGHT FACTOR
It’s well documented that being exposed to natural light has big benefits for our wellbeing. Not only has it been proven to boost morale, it also lowers fatigue and reduces eye strain and headaches! This is great news for the workplace especially as it means absenteeism is lowered whilst productivity is higher. There have even been studies that demonstrate how shoppers will stay longer in malls and that patients may even recover quicker in hospital!
REASON 2: YOU’LL FEEL MORE CONNECTED TO THE OUTDOORS
Did you know that roof lights let in two times the amount of daylight versus vertical glazing! The transmission of more natural light into your room also means less electrical lights are switched on thus contributing to lower running costs for your building.
REASON 3: YOU CAN GET A BETTER NIGHT SLEEP
A properly installed roof light can enhance your thermal comfort meaning a better night sleep – something everyone needs! Roof lights (by removing heat and other pollutants) can improve your air quality and provide natural ventilation. All big pluses in our book!
We hope you enjoyed this article, if you’d like further inspiration to spark your project our pinterest board is bursting with cool ideas!
We're also offering a free 1 hour local consultation to discuss your project, call the office on 01633 744144 or email email@example.com to book!