Water reed use innovative but design failing leads to rejection

Despite agreeing that the use of water reed for the walls and roof of a zero carbon dwelling in the South Devon AONB was innovative in approach an inspector has decided that the proposed design failed to respect the character of the immediate area.

The inspector agreed with the appellant that insufficient attention was often paid to the amount of embodied carbon in the materials used to construct new buildings and expended in the construction process. The use of water reed alongside a timber frame was innovative and valuable because, if the dwelling acted as a prototype for approaches to design and construction that could have wider application, it would raise standards more generally, not only in rural areas.

But paragraph 55 of the national planning policy framework also required an isolated dwelling in the countryside to be of the highest standards of architecture and enhance its setting. Certain aspects of the design, notably the sculpted profile of the roof and intrinsic qualities of the thatch, were pleasing. However, the building would be set on stilts and it would not meet the appellant’s aim of allowing it to ‘touch the earth lightly’. The ground floor level was kept constant despite the sloping nature of the site and this would appear contrived. Thus it would not be of exceptional quality nor be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the area.

Inspector: Paul Griffiths; Hearing

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