Planners from Savills in Bristol have secured consent for a Grand Designs style dwelling in open countryside in Wiltshire, under paragraph 79e of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It is understood to be the first consent of its kind secured for a home designed for accessibility.
Due to strict controls, permission to build a new home in open countryside is a rarity. Paragraph 79e offers a means of gaining approval but only under very exceptional circumstances. The clause represents such a high policy bar that the percentage of successful applications is very low.
Often referred to as Grand Designs homes, dwellings approved under paragraph 79e are inherently one-off designs of exceptional quality. To be considered, proposals must demonstrate, among other factors, a truly outstanding or innovative design that will significantly enhance the surrounding area. This is the first time Paragraph 79e has been successfully employed to enable the creation of an exemplar home for accessibility.
Savills acted for a couple, one of whom has been a wheelchair user for more than 10 years since receiving radiotherapy for cancer treatment. Unable to comfortably navigate her current family home and having failed to find a suitable single-storey home within the local area, she decided to commission a new home, making use of a nearby field.
The project team worked with the couple to support their aspiration to deliver an exemplar design where accessible features would be embedded within the architecture of the house and its grounds.
Working with an architecture studio, Bindloss Dawes, the scheme was developed alongside a robust pre-application process, including a Design Review Panel, together with engagement with the local planning authority, ward councillor and parish council.
The consultancy team built a strong evidence base to demonstrate the innovative and practical nature of the proposals, which received glowing Design Panel endorsement.
Geraint Jones, a director in the Savills Bristol planning team, commented: "Accessible features are typically added to homes as 'bolt-on' features resulting in a functional, but often unattractive, compromise. Considering our client’s needs from the outset of the design process challenged this norm and has delivered a home that raises the bar in the private housing market. Paragraph 79 is a challenging route to negotiate, but thanks to a robust process, we are thrilled to have achieved a positive result, paving the way for an exemplar home of accessible design."
Commenting on the outcome, the client said: "As well as fulfilling our dream, we hope to raise the bar and encourage others to improve on the way houses work for those with disabilities."
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