Planning - from dreams to approval.

Background

Having spent 19 years in the RAF, we have moved several times (Germany, Wales twice, Lincolnshire twice, Devon and the New Forest) but had only owned one house. I extensively modified and extended the one we owned but having exhausted its potential, the bug to build my own house developed. I started looking for plots in the New Forest but they were:

a) usually snapped up by developers long before private individuals got a look-in or were...

b) prohibitively expensive

An opportunity then arose via my parents. They live in a bungalow on 1/2 an acre in a small, sort-after village in East Anglia. They (my Father!) decided that the up-keep of the garden was getting too much for him. I suggested building a new house with an Annex for them. The seed was sown. Living with your parents/in-laws is however, a big step! Unanimous agreement was essential. Many family discussions took place and eventually we all agreed - thanks particularly to my very understanding wife!

Design & Planning

In November 2000, I set to work designing the house using:

House Builders Bible
I can not recommend this book too strongly. I am still consulting it on an almost daily basis. My architect has been so impressed with my inside knowledge that he has bought a copy!

Having designed my "ideal" house in some detail - I then approached a local Architect. He recommended presenting a detailed plan personally to the planning officer. We presented our plan on the 19 Apr. The planning officer was very approachable but explained that as the site was outside the development area of the village, we were subject to the very stringent replacement building regulations. Our proposal was simply too big. The planning officer was however, keen that we should re-build rather than extend/alter the existing building. The existence of a Grade 2 building on the opposite side of the road also complicated the issue somewhat. We eventually left with a clean sheet of paper and the remit to reduce the size and also produce a building of "exceptional quality" if we were to persuade the Planning Committee to allow us to build. Many more meetings took place as the plan evolved, a full planning application was eventually submitted in July 2001. Following a site visit by the full committee, planning was approved on 14 Sep 2001. Phew!

Lessons?

Talk to the planners at the earliest opportunity and don't spend too much time (money) on the fine detail until the concept has been approved.