In Focus - Design quality wins permission for rural home

Permission has been granted for a house in the Suffolk countryside after an inspector accepted that its high-quality design warrants making an exception to normal policy restrictions on isolated dwellings in rural areas.

Proposed farm home: high-quality design. Modece Architects and TLP Woodbridge pic
Proposed farm home: high-quality design. Modece Architects and TLP Woodbridge pic

The house was proposed on an intensively farmed 18-hectare arable holding. The site fell within a special landscape area and adjoined a conservation area. The appellants sought to pursue low-energy, environmentally friendly methods of living, working and farming. The inspector noted that paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework allows isolated dwellings in the countryside if they can demonstrate exceptional quality or innovative design.

She accepted that no single element of the scheme could be regarded as particularly ingenious or inventive. However, she found that the significant point was the opportunity it would provide for an integrated approach to low-energy living and working. The house and outbuildings were designed as part of a mutually dependent system involving domestic, landscape and farming methods based on best environmental practice, she found.

The house would represent uncompromising contemporary architecture, she observed. While recognising that it might not appeal to some, she opined that it could not be faulted for the way it responded to the features of the site and that it would create a noteworthy addition to the landscape. It was truly architecture of high quality, she held.

The inspector acknowledged that the council's fears about the house representing an alien feature were not without foundation, since it was clearly a departure from local vernacular architecture. However, she concluded that the concept, being designed to showcase excellence in sustainable construction and benefiting from a well-considered landscaping scheme, could be accommodated without detracting from the countryside or the setting of the conservation area.

Inspector: Ava Wood; Hearing

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