Developing a New Build Property on a Residential Plot

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Vicarage Close, Kingswood, Surrey


For many years Steve Macdonald, the owner of a five bedroom house in a quiet close in Kingswood in Surrey had been aware of the potential for developing a section of his plot which technically could be classified as rear garden but in reality the space was bordered by the close and would therefore avoid the Local Authority’s resistance to back garden development.

Having had a positive reaction when introducing the project principles to a small developer client and a local planning consultant the architect formed a project team to review the options for the site.

Firstly all parties reviewed the original status of the site gathering as much information as possible. Following a close inspection as to why the south side of the close had been underdeveloped and the rear of the plot not built on originally the most significant discovery and the key to unlocking the development was that 2 TPO (tree protection order) trees had been lost during the hurricane of 1988. These two trees had determined that this section of the site could not be developed. Their loss paved the way for the development potential to be reviewed in a pre-application meeting with the Planning department.

It was decided to go the pre-application route and consequently a scheme that would demolish the host dwelling and develop three new houses on the plot was to be put forward. As a fallback position, construction of a single house on a portion of the site was worked up.

Macdonald Design Ltd - Existing Back Garden

Existing back garden where new property will sit

At the pre-application meeting the principle was to discuss the three plot scheme, but it quickly became apparent that this was viewed as an overdevelopment but on production of the single house scheme Planning were extremely positive.

A detailed appraisal of the single house scheme was issued by Planning and the positive principles and elements that needed to be resolved were adopted and adhered to throughout the ensuing process. Detailed designs were then worked up in close consultation with the developer. This was a crucial integration of design and financial viability with both being of equal importance. For this purpose it should be appreciated that buildings can be too large as well as too small and generating a design that suits the site position, the scale in relation to the other houses in the close, the cost of construction and the potential resale of the proposed house will all lead to the final design.

A design that everyone was happy with and looked contemporary yet followed principles adopted on the close and would sell for a price and at a construction cost that would allow the developer to make an adequate return was developed and was submitted for Planning approval.

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s policy for the determination of single plot planning applications was that they would be handled under delegated officer’s powers. In this case, it would be the same officer as had conducted the pre-application assessment. Progress through planning was straightforward given that the project team had taken full heed of the pre-application advice. However, as is usually the case, a certain degree of local concern and objection had arisen, not on technical grounds but more emotively concerned with disruption during the construction process. However, the Ward Counselor, relatively new to the post, became rather concerned about some technical elements of the design. The process became somewhat protracted as in an effort to allay the Councilor’s concerns the case officer suggested that the project team make some minor modifications to the design so the decision could remain under officer’s approval. These changes necessitated a re-consultation exercise as a result of which further minor objections were made and the Councilor then requested that the project be determined, as is his right, by the full Planning Committee. This was an unusual occurrence for a single house scheme and when duly presented was very quickly approved, the Planning Committee had bigger fish to fry!

Click the image below for more visuals of this project.