Zero-carbon dwelling fails truly exceptional test

A six-bedroom dwelling in the Warwickshire countryside would not deliver a truly outstanding and exceptional design, an inspector has decided.

Under the appeal proposal, energy required to heat and cool the dwelling would be taken from air, water and ground source heat pumps and solar panels. Walls and solar slabs would absorb and store heat from the sun and rainwater would be harvested, with foul and surface water managed through reed beds and other sustainable drainage measures.

While recognising that the use of this combination of technologies within a single dwelling is not common, the inspector remarked that none were truly innovative and their applicability to other forms of housing had not been demonstrated.

The appellant’s design concept was based on lodges within a fishing village, reflecting the site’s location adjacent to a lake. The inspector observed that design features involving doubly curved grass roofs, a partly earth-sheltered ground floor, timber decking oversailing the water and a largely symmetrical layout would lead to a bold and contemporary design that went far beyond the more simplistic form of a typical fishing village.

While agreeing that the design was not without merit and construction would be of a high standard, he was not convinced that it would be sufficiently outstanding to merit the exception to the national planning policy presumption against isolated dwellings in the countryside. Neither had the appellant explained how the development could be used as an education venue for those seeking to build sustainably, he added. Consequently, he concluded, it did not meet the requirements of paragraph 131 of the NPPF.

Inspector: Paul Thompson; Written representations

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