How to gain planning permission in an AONB

By Lizzie

Finding a site on which to build a new home in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a wonderful opportunity. It can be extremely difficult to gain planning permission in an AONB for a new home on an empty plot – though not impossible. A more accessible option is to find a site with an existing dwelling and create a design for a new home that considers the landscape around it.

In the government’s words, an AONB “is land protected by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which protects the land to conserve and enhance its natural beauty”. An architect’s priority when designing a new dwelling in an AONB is therefore to reflect the surrounding environment, natural materials and existing built environment.

Take our design for Hidden House. Hidden House is a family home set in the Suffolk countryside and within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, overlooking the River Stour. The site has fantastic views of the water, falling down to meet the beach to the south. Mature trees and hedging create the boundaries of the plot.

Our task was to replace the existing dwelling with a new home that suited the family for the long term. To meet the requirements of the AONB, we needed to give particular attention to two aspects of design. First, the use of suitable materials and, second, the design of a structure that worked with the landscape.

Starting with the use of materials, we carried out a close analysis of the area. The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB has a distinct character, with sand and shingle beaches below the rolling arable hills. We sought to use natural, weathering materials that reflect these colours.

Turning to the structure, the TAS Architects team designed the home with two angled wings that maximise views and form a sheltered garden between. This gives a sense of separation between the two main elements of the house. The structure also forms a dialogue influenced by the clusters of agricultural buildings typical of the area.

A final area to consider was light spill to the surrounding area. We didn’t want the new dwelling to impact the footpaths close by, or other buildings nearby.

As such, we carefully considered views out of the bedrooms and added slatted timber screens to increase privacy and reduce light spill. These slats are constructed in the same weathered larch as the facades, which means they appear as semi-translucent areas in the building’s fabric. The result is that rooms are shaded from solar gain and the openings blend into the vegetation around the plot when viewed from afar.

Gaining planning permission in areas of emerging green belt or conservation areas can be similarly challenging. We recently gained planning permission for a new home in an emerging greenbelt area in Hertfordshire. Our design for Long Barn ensured that it would not impact on the openness of the emerging greenbelt and instead re-used previously developed land.

If you’d like to talk to us about gaining planning permission in an AONB, emerging greenbelt or a conversation area, get in touch.

Tags: Design, Architectural process

Share this: