Wednesday 23 November 2011

New requirement for payment under Habitat Regulations...

With effect from 1 November 2011 any new residential or tourist accommodation will have to provide mitigation for recreational impacts on protected European Wildlife Sites.  This affects areas within 10km of the Exe Estuary and Dawlish Warren. 

for more information, please refer to

New legislation...

The General Permitted Development Order and the Advert Regulations have been amended with a start date of 1 October 2011 for electric vehicle charging points and 1 December 2011 for micro-generation updates:

Amendment of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995

—(1) The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995(1) is amended as follows.
(2) In Part 2 of Schedule 2 (minor operations), after Class C insert—

“Class D
Permitted development

D. The installation, alteration or replacement, within an area lawfully used for off-street parking, of an electrical outlet mounted on a wall for recharging electric vehicles.
Development not permitted

D.1 Development is not permitted by Class D if the outlet and its casing would—

(a) exceed 0.2 cubic metres;
(b) face onto and be within two metres of a highway;
(c) be within a site designated as a scheduled monument; or
(d) be within the curtilage of a listed building.


Development is permitted by Class D subject to the conditions that when no longer needed as a charging point for electric vehicles—

(a)the development shall be removed as soon as reasonably practicable; and
(b)the wall on which the development was mounted or into which the development was set shall, as soon as reasonably practicable, and so far as reasonably practicable, be reinstated to its condition before that development was carried out.

Class E
Permitted development

E. The installation, alteration or replacement, within an area lawfully used for off-street parking, of an upstand with an electrical outlet mounted on it for recharging electric vehicles.

Development not permitted

E.1 Development is not permitted by Class E if the upstand and the outlet would—

(a) exceed 1.6 metres in height from the level of the surface used for the parking of vehicles;
(b) be within two metres of a highway;
(c) be within a site designated as a scheduled monument;
(d) be within the curtilage of a listed building; or
(e) result in more than one upstand being provided for each parking space.


Development is permitted by Class E subject to the conditions that when the development is no longer needed as a charging point for electric vehicles—

(a) the development shall be removed as soon as reasonably practicable; and
(b) the land on which the development was mounted or into which the development was set shall, as soon as reasonably practicable, and so far as reasonably practicable, be reinstated to its condition before that development was carried out.”.

(3) In Part 12 of Schedule 2 (development by local authorities), for Class A substitute—

“Class A
Permitted development

A The erection or construction and the maintenance, improvement or other alteration by a local authority or by an urban development corporation of—

(a)any small ancillary building, works or equipment on land belonging to or maintained by them required for the purposes of any function exercised by them on that land otherwise than as statutory undertakers;
(b)lamp standards, information kiosks, passenger shelters, public shelters and seats, telephone boxes, fire alarms, public drinking fountains, horse troughs, refuse bins or baskets, barriers for the control of people waiting to enter public service vehicles, electric vehicle charging points and any associated infrastructure, and similar structures or works required in connection with the operation of any public service administered by them.

Interpretation of Class A

For the purposes of Class A “urban development corporation” has the same meaning as in Part 16 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980(2) (urban development).

A.2 The reference in Class A to any small ancillary building, works or equipment is a reference to any ancillary building, works or equipment not exceeding 4 metres in height or 200 cubic metres in capacity.”.

(4) For Part 40 of Schedule 2 (installation of domestic microgeneration equipment) substitute Part 40 as set out in the Schedule to this Order.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Planning committees and the call-in process...

Planning applications are determined either by Planning Committees or by officers under powers delegated to them by the council's constitution. Most applications are determined under these delegated powers. The Planning Committees usually only make decisions on planning applications for major developments, those proposals that raise significant public concern, or those 'called in' by a District Councillor.

The call-in process
District Councillors may "call in" applications they feel should go to Committee. If you have serious concerns about an application, you may wish to contact your local councillor about this as soon as you are notified of the application. Call-ins need to submitted at the earliest opportunity, this is in order that the Planning Department has the time to schedule in the application for a committee meeting so that a decision can be made within the statutory eight-week timescale that the department has to determine planning applications.

Call-in forms will state why the application has been called in and whether the application is to be called in if officers are minded to grant or minded to refuse an application. Call-in forms are published on the website along with the plans and other supporting documents.

Once officers have made their assessment of the application, they will then make their recommendation as to whether or not the application should be granted. Whether or not the application goes to Committee will usually depend on both this recommendation and the call-in. For example, if the recommendation is going to be to grant permission and there exists a call-in from a councillor to Committee if the recommendation is to grant, then that application will go to Committee. It is therefore normally only when officers have fully assessed an application and made their recommendation, that we know if an application needs to be heard at Committee. There are cases where there are call-ins from two councillors, one if the recommendation is grant and another if the recommendation is refuse, and these applications will go to Committee.

Monday 10 October 2011

Coles Farm (formerly Manor)...

Work continues on the Manor House with the construction of the Utility, shower room and Gym as well as the second fix to the main house. The Thatcher is due in two weeks time to roof over the former outbuildings which will transform the image of the dwelling considerably. The new custodians of this historic property are to change the name to Coles Farm (or Colses Farm) which for some locally may appear strange, though this was the original name for the farm in the 18th Century, only having changed to the Manor House at the turn of the 20th Century. This is a more fitting name for the property and a nice touch by the new owners.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Localism and the National Planning Policy Framework: implications for local government...

Taken from the Planning Advisory Service website (
The Government is making some significant changes to the planning system that will affect the responsibilities of all local planning authorities. The intention is to make the planning system one that better supports sustainable economic growth and jobs, underpinned with the principles of localism, with less ‘top-down’ prescription and more ‘bottom up’ involvement.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will set out the Government’s priorities for planning in England. It will replace the current raft of planning policy guidance notes and statements with one document of less than 60 pages. The final version will be published around the end of 2011 or early 2012.
The regional tier of planning is to be abolished, including Regional Spatial Strategies and their associated housing targets. This will give you more freedom and flexibility to work with your neighbours and other bodies (as covered by the ‘duty to co-operate’) to do the strategic planning for your area.
Your authority will need to have a plan in place to guide development to the right place, and against which to make planning decisions. Without an up-to-date local plan, development decisions will be made on the basis of national policy, with the presumption being ‘yes’. Some predict an increase in ‘planning by appeal’ where there is no up-todate local plan.
Neighbourhoods and parishes will increasingly be able to take on planning in their areas. You will need to work with them – managing their expectations and helping them to understand what they can and can’t do.
This document aims to give chief executives a brief overview of the significant changes to the planning system and the implications of the changes.
Cover of the Localism and NPPF guide

Monday 3 October 2011

Art Deco Exhibitions...

Major new exhibitions on Art Deco architecture:

Images of Art Deco shops: 'Puttin’ on the Glitz' exhibition, RIBA

01 October 2011 - 26 November 2011
Monday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm (Tuesday 10am - 10pm)

Gallery 2, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD

01 October 2011 - 26 November 2011
Tuesday 10am - 8pm Wednesday and Friday 10am - 5pm Saturday 10am - 1.30pm
Closed Monday, Thursday and Sunday

British Architectural Library, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD

Sunday 2 October 2011


Design for a new 2-bed single storey dwelling in Dunkeswell, Devon, prepared and ready for a planning submission. The building sits high on the site, but this has been made necessary by the foul water drainage from the existing bungalow that is to pass under the new dwelling, being at a depth of only 120mm.

RIBA Stirling Prize 2011...and the winner is...

Congratulations to Zaha Hadid Architects.

The Evelyn Grace Academy, a cutting-edge new secondary school in Brixton, south London by Zaha Hadid Architects has won the prestigious £20,000 RIBA Stirling Prize 2011 for the best new European building built or designed in the United Kingdom.

Friday 30 September 2011


Project in Harpenden, now prepared and ready for submission to planning.

Tuesday 27 September 2011


Bringing together: 
Major suppliers of sustainable and environmentally friendly building products (materials) to an online event, where you can: compare solutions and suppliers in our directory; register for a live ecoSHOWCASE event; read the latest product news and case studies
Events will be taking part over the next nine months.

Birmingham 11 Oct 11

Cardiff 18 Oct 11
Luton 8 Nov 11

Monday 26 September 2011

Farm Development...

Planning has this week been granted for an Office, Stores, Workshop, Stables and Tack Room near Whimple in East Devon. Replacing an existing structure that is in a state of disrepair, this new development closes an existing yard with a timber framed building that will blend in well with the green surroundings.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Student Accommodation...

Following the success in obtaining planning consent , drawings have now been prepared for a submission to Exeter City Council Building Regulations Department for the construction of student accommodation that will comprise of 12 student rooms, each with en-suite facilities together with communal living, dining / kitchen areas and outside amenity area. The site was appraised, having regard to its position in relation to the proximity of the City Centre and easy access to the University of Exeter Streatham Campus and the St Luke’s Campus. The 4-storey building is to enhance the street scene and be sympathetic to the buildings that surround the site and the St David’s Conservation Area.

This infill site had been in existence since 1782 and the site occupied by The Papermakers Arms Public House when the dwelling house was converted in 1814. Latterly the premises became known as the Papermakers, a Mex-Tex restaurant-pub until demolished in 2004. The developer, 'Exeter Land Developments Limited', are hoping to start on site in the very near future.

Lego Architecture...

I applaud  the fact that Lego have created a range of models for us bigger kids that portray famous buildings and structures from around the world. However, I do happen to think that they have got this one completely wrong...back to the drawing board Lego, maybe at Taliesin West!
(photohraph by Richard Anderson)

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Manor House Phase 2 Demolition....

This week has seen the partial demolition of the existing adjoining outbuilding, retaining the original cob wall to the street side. Rebuilding work will soon start to create a rear entrance, utility, shower room and gymnasium under a thatched roof.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Residential Refurbishment & Extension, Crazelowman: Update...

Re-roofing works are almost complete on the grade II 16th Century former farmhouse, replacing the corrugated asbestos sheet roofing with natural slate.

The refurbishment will address the usual aspects associated with modernisation of older properties and the extensions are to comprise single storey mono-pitched additions, creating a new hallway; w.c.; utility room and family room. A new opening is to be created in the flank cob wall to provide ease of access to the family room and aid circulation to the ground floor layout.

Manor Update...

Phase one continues with the third of four dormers now being framed out as well as first fix electrical and mechanical. Phase two is really picking up pace with the removal of the existing roof to the outbuildings.

Costs fall to build green homes...

Building Design Online are today reporting that:

A government report into building green homes has revealed that the cost of meeting sustainability codes has fallen in the past three years.
Produced by the communities and local government department, the research shows that average extra costs for homes built to code level 3 have fallen by three-quarters from £4,458 in 2008 to £1,128 last year.
Sustainable homes code were introduced back in 2007 and made it mandatory that all new housing meet code level 3 from the following May. All new homes are expected to be zero carbon from 2016.
The boss of the UK Green Building Council, Paul King, hailed the performance of the building industry in slashing the costs of going green.
“The industry has responded in a remarkable way,” he added. “Both house builders in terms of the design of new homes and the construction products industry in terms of the technology required.”
by David Rogers 

Sunday 28 August 2011

100% Design...

Another show in town....
Looking for the latest design-led products for residential, commercial or retail applications? In search of inspiration? Dreaming of a one-stop-shop for industry professionals and design lovers? Put 22-25 September 2011 in your calendar now...100% Design is aimed at design and architectural industry professionals. Students can also attend on the Saturday and Sunday with the general public able to visit on the Sunday only.Your entry badge will give you unlimited access to all three shows (100% Design, 100% Futures and 100% Materials). Entry is free to trade and press visitors who register online no later than 16th September. 

Saturday 27 August 2011

World Architecture Festival 2011...

The World Architecture Festival is taking place at Barcelona’s flagship convention centre, the Centro de Convenciones Internacionales de Barcelona, (CCIB). Held between the 2nd and 4th November 2011m the World Architecture Festival is the world’s largest, live, truely inclusive and interactive global architectural awards programme. It is a unique meeting point for Architects, suppliers and clients, attracting hundreds of entries and visitors from all over the world.

Be warned though, a single 3-day pass costs € 495...once you have journeyed to Spain and found accommodation.....I won't be attending.

Thursday 25 August 2011

The London Design Festival 2011...

17-25th September, Nine amazing days of design events showcasing the UK's world-class creative community. If you're in town, well worth a visit.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Plans for new Apple HQ, by Norman Foster, officially released...


Now that we're in to the second half of 2011 thought I'd just remind folk about this year's colour of the year.

50 Years of London Architecture...

RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist 2011...

The sun rises in the East...

The offices of Eastern Concrete are officially open. Guests at the informal launch included colleagues from Reimer in Canada, Scania (Great Britain) Limited as well as the design team. There are some external matters still to address, such as the rainscreen cladding, guarding to the balcony and signage, all of which is due  to be completed in the next few months.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

The use of downlighters in dwellings – A Designers Guide...

The use of downlighters is becoming increasingly common in dwellings and domestic extensions. This fact combined with recent amendments to the Building Regulations has prompted debate on their compliance between Building Control Surveyors and other construction professionals.

Fire Safety
Approved Document B of the Building Regulations includes requirements that floors in dwellings achieve a fire rating. This is normally 30 minutes for low rise buildings where the floor is not a compartment floor. When installing downlighters in such a floor, the question arises as to whether or not they will adversely affect its fire resistant properties to the extent that it will not comply.

Whilst there is not a great deal of research information available on this subject, tests sponsored by the DETR (now ODPM) and carried out by The Timber Research and Development Association (Trada Technology Report 1/2001) provide useful guidance. The view of many Building Control professionals is that additional protection in the form of intumescent covers, boxing or fire resisting fittings is a  necessary provision in all cases. It may be that these opinions that have been influenced by commercially driven advice from companies dealing in such products. It is important that our decisions are based on sound and independent scientific research, it being all too easy to ask for a higher standard knowing that we are unlikely to be challenged.

The above tests were carried out on typical timber joisted floors (measuring 3.2m x 4.2m) fitted with up to 24 plastic and metal clipped fittings of various diameters. All indicated that the unprotected downlighters did not cause premature failures in terms of load bearing capacity, insulation or integrity. It could be argued that such ‘laboratory’ standards do not represent a floor after the retrospective removal of areas of floor decking. Such concerns are weakened by the fact that patched areas are inevitably supported on noggins or joists and the tests included decking that was not tongued and grooved.

Similar tests on 60 minute fire resisting floors also did not show premature failure. This small scale evidence is sufficient to negate the need for downlighter protection in 60minute floors. Full scale evidence may be more onerous so in the absence of such information, covers should be provided.

It is also important that these tests are not seen as being representative of other floor types such as those incorporating engineered ‘I beam’ joists. Such members have little ‘sacrificial’ timber so rely almost entirely on the integrity of the ceiling lining to prevent failure in fire. Protective measures are also essential in this type of floor.

Sound Insulation
Internal floors within dwellings
When amended Part E hit our desks in July 2003, it bought into effect new controls on floor construction within dwellings in addition to the existing requirements concerning separating floors. This has caused surveyors to consider the impact of downlighter installation in such floors and whether the 40 R w dB sound insulation value would still be achievable. Acoustically rated fittings are available but are they necessary?

The advice from experienced acoustic consultants is that their effect on sound insulation properties is relatively negligible. Previous tests would suggest a reduction of only 1 – 2 dB. In view of the popularity of such fittings it would seem a reasonable approach to allow them in internal floors without any additional measures.

Separating floors between dwellings
The use of downlighters in various separating floor constructions is covered in the Robust Details Guide. This states that there should be a minimum ceiling void of 75mm and that; -
a) They should be fitted in accordance with manufacturers recommendations,
b) At centres not less than 75mm, and
c) Openings in the lining should not exceed 100mm diameter or 100 x 100mm square.

Developers who opt to register accordance with a robust detail should not deviate from this associated guidance. For separating floors not covered by robust details it would seem sensible to advise against their use. There is little relevant commentary in the Approved Document and such penetrations may well be the cause of failure in the necessary pre completion testing.

Thermal Insulation
Cold bridging
A common sight for surveyors carrying out final inspections of extensions and new dwellings is a roof space insulated with 250mm thick mineral wool quilt and with countless uninsulated patches around the downlighter fittings in the ceilings. The cumulative effect of this in terms of heat loss can be substantial.

It is true to say that most turn a blind eye to such cold bridges despite their contravention of Regulation L.1. This is because of the need to vent heat away from the units as per manufacturer’s advice. A more favourable arrangement can be achieved using downlighter bulbs that mainly direct heat downwards with far less heat production above the unit. This allows a small pocket in insulation to safely accommodate the fitting i.e. the omission of a small area of lower layer quilt in 2 layer systems. Consequently heat loss can be greatly reduced and Surveyors can confidently ensure compliance with the Regulations.

Efficient Lighting
Approved Document L 2006 edition amends the requirements for the provision of energy efficient lights. New dwellings for example now require 25% of all light fittings to be energy efficient ones. Compact fluorescent & LED downlighters are now available which meet this standard.

Access statements in demonstrating compliance with Part M of the Building Regulations: Access to and Use of Buildings – A Designers Guide...

The new Part M of the Building regulations came into effect on 1 May 2004 introducing a revised set of rules relating to buildings other than dwellings. An amended Approved Document covering these changes suggests various ways of achieving compliance with the core requirements and in the majority of cases the designer will choose to accord with these recommendations or the similar guidance contained in the British Standard Code of Practice B.S.8300: 2001. This is not mandatory however as these documents only show one way in which to comply and there may be other equally satisfactory ways in which the requirements can be met. The new Part M also introduces the concept of an Access Statement.

Purpose of an Access Statement
Alternative solutions to access problems will vary depending on the intended use of a building and its size and location. The gradient of the plot will also have an influence. Changes of use and extensions to existing buildings can pose problems particularly if they are of architectural or historic importance. The purpose of an Access Statement is to allow a designer to outline their philosophy and approach to achieving a reasonable level of accessibility. In its simplest form this may be a confirmation that they intend to accord fully with the guidance contained in either Approved Document M or B.S.8300. In this case the specifications and drawings submitted with the Building Regulations application should demonstrate this.

Access Statements and Planning Applications
Ideally the designer should prepare a statement for submission with the Planning application and indeed the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister considers this good practice. It can then be  developed further for the Building Regulations application and during the construction process. This will provide the building owner with a useful document when considering compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act. The early consideration of such matters is advantageous in that any potential problems can be considered and resolved before any detailed design work takes place. It also avoids the need to seek amendments to planning consents where such problems only come to light at the Building Regulations stage.

Non-conformity with Usual Design Guidance
For designs that deviate from the usual design guidance, the Access Statement provides an opportunity to bring the Building Control Surveyor’s attention to this fact and to explain and justify that reasonable provision for accessibility has been made in other ways. The designer may wish to adopt more innovative methods or it may be that the normal provisions are not feasible for reasons of security, safety or conservation. With existing buildings undergoing extension or change of use, there may be complications caused by the existing structure or a need to conserve important architectural features. In all the above cases the designer needs to demonstrate achievement a reasonable provision or an equivalent or better level.

Further guidance on Access Statements and related matters can be found in Approved Document M (Para 0.20) and on the Disability Rights Commission website at 

Saturday 20 August 2011

Planning Obligations (Section 106 Agreements)...


Where a planning obligation is required in connection with a proposed development in order to mitigate the impact it will have on the local authorities infrastructure, planning permission will not be issued until the obligation has been satisfactorily completed.

If a planning obligation is not completed within the target time for making a decision on the planning application, planning permission may be refused on the grounds that the impact of the proposal will not be mitigated and it is therefore contrary to development plan policies.

The target date for making a decision on a planning application will be set out in the acknowledgement letter sent to the applicant/agent following registration of the application.

There are two main types of planning obligation that can be used, depending on the complexity of the issues the obligation is required to cover:


A unilateral undertaking is a simple form of planning obligation which is relatively quick to complete. It involves the applicant completing a legal undertaking to pay the required financial contribution to the District Council at a specified time.

Unilateral undertakings can be used where
1.    the number and type of dwellings, and number of bedrooms proposed are clearly set out in the planning application description (for example, 3 x two-bedroom dwellings and 6 x one-bedroom flats) or shown on the accompanying plans, and
2.    where the planning obligation only needs to cover financial contributions towards public open space, community facilities or education facilities.

Such undertakings are usually submitted at the same time as the planning application and are already signed and dated.


Where a planning obligation needs to cover a more complex range of issues, or in the case of an outline application where the type of dwelling and number of bedrooms proposed is not stated, applicants will be required to complete a type of planning obligation commonly known as a S106 Agreement. This type of legal agreement will need to be entered into by the applicant, anyone else who has an interest in the land forming the application site, the District Council, and in some cases the County Council. It is therefore a more complex type of planning obligation than a unilateral undertaking, and normally takes longer and is more expensive to complete.


A planning obligation is a legally binding agreement secured under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended. These agreements are regularly referred to as Planning Agreements or Section 106 Agreements.

They require a developer or landowner to undertake certain works, or to contribute financially towards the provision of measures to mitigate the negative impacts of their development.

Where planning obligations are required, a planning agreement, drafted by the Council’s legal services team and entered into by the Council and the developer or landowner will usually be appropriate. However there will be occasions where the use of Unilateral Undertakings can assist in ensuring that planning permissions are granted speedily, which benefits both the applicant and the Council.

A Unilateral Undertaking is a simplified version of a Planning Agreement and is only entered into by the landowner. It will only be appropriate in certain circumstances.

The Council may consider that it will normally be appropriate for a Unilateral Undertaking to be used only if all the following conditions are met:

·         The person entering into the Undertaking is the owner of the land (not merely a purchaser with a conditional contract) and there are no leases or tenancies. If the land is subject to a mortgage/legal charge, mortgage and mortgagee details should be included.
·         The Planning Obligation will consist solely of the payment of financial contributions, of one or more of the types described in the template, to be paid on commencement of development or the date hereof (i.e. the date the agreement is signed).
·         The Undertaking includes an obligation to pay the Council's costs in assessing the adequacy of the Undertaking (which will include checking the title to the land) and registering the Undertaking as a local land charge. This charge is subject to review and actual costs will be assessed by reference to the rates operating on the date of completion of the agreement. If planning permission is not granted, then the local land charge will be removed.

If any of the above conditions are not met, the Council will normally consider the matter unsuitable for a Unilateral Undertaking and will expect the Applicant to enter into a conventional negotiated Section 106 Agreement, which will be drafted by the Council’s Legal Services under their normal terms of business.

If the Applicant considers that the above conditions are met and the Development Control Officer dealing with the application has confirmed that a Unilateral Undertaking would be appropriate, then the Applicant should complete a draft Unilateral Undertaking and submit this to the Development Control Section with the related planning application, together with a plan of the application land and proof of title to the land.

Upon receipt of the draft undertaking, the Council will assess it and confirm whether it is acceptable or whether amendments are required. They will also check the proof of title submitted. If any amendments are required, the draft will be returned to the applicant.

A Unilateral Undertaking must be completed and signed before the application can be registered and considered. Applicants are therefore strongly advised to allow sufficient time for their draft undertaking to be assessed and (if need be) amended.

A Unilateral Undertaking is a legally binding document with significant financial consequences. If you are in any doubt about the meaning and effect of the undertaking you should seek independent legal advice.

Councils are committed to offering pre-application advice. Where it is intended to submit a Unilateral Undertaking, you are advised to include this element in any pre-application discussions, so that the details and level of contribution can be agreed prior to the submission of a planning application.

How much you pay for play, recreation or open spaces depends on whether you're:
·         contributing towards enhancements to existing facilities; or
·         providing new facilities on site.

Indicative costs are set out in the table below, but you should check with your local authority for a more definite figure.

Size of dwelling                                                               Lay-out contribution per dwelling
One single bed flat or sheltered unit                                    £2,558.78
One flat or house with between two or four bedrooms          £3,698.81
One house with five or more bedrooms                                £4,236.73