Our property is classified as a “non designated asset” by the planning department, which although not Listed suggests it is thought of as having some historical importance and Conservation Officers are often consulted when planning applications are submitted.
Although the Conservation Officer objected to the dormer design at first, we argued that a contrasting design was easier to read as a more recent addition than a pastiche which blurred the boundaries between old and new.
We love old buildings and have lived in several before, but believe they need to be reasonably practical to live in, or they will not be lived in / used and fall into disrepair. Conservation not preservation.
A growing school of thought amongst Conservation professionals, is that new interventions to historic buildings should be easily read so that original fabric can be distinguished from more recent additions or alterations. People live differently today and buildings evolve, and if this history of use is apparent in the buildings appearance it can actually enhance the property.
As the borehole, GSHP and package treatment plant were located in our field this was considered outside our residential curtilage, so these works also needed planning permission.
In addition to the completed application forms and existing/proposed drawings, the planning dept. also required a protected species report for the building and site. This report prepared by an ecologist checked for evidence of bats, owls, and protected plant specimens. Although both bats and owls were observed flying in the vicinity, they were searching for food not nesting in the house so would not be impacted by our proposed alterations.
The environment agency, Parish Council and neighbours were all consulted by the planning officer, and a public notice was posted on the road. Following discussions with our neighbour we made some minor amendments to windows to address their concerns regarding overlooking, and compromised on some of the Conservation Officers issues.
The statutory period for dealing with minor applications is 8 weeks, however due to delays in being asked for more information by the planning dept. the case officer was concerned that she was not going to be able to meet the deadline and asked us to withdraw the application. We felt this was unreasonable and would delay us starting the work, so instead we proposed to separate the external works from the house.
The ground works were duly approved, so we could at least proceed with excavations for drainage / GSHP trenches etc.
The revised house proposals were resubmitted (and another fee paid!), whilst excavations and roof works started. To our amazement, the planning officer insisted on another bat survey even though the first reported had found no evidence of bats and the original roof had been stripped and the tiles replaced. They also required a different consultant be used from their “approved” list. As soon as the second ecologist saw our new roof he expressed his surprise at a survey even being requested, however he duly carried out the survey, and again confirmed that bats were flying over our property to feed in the trees alongside the Beck, but were not roosting in our property.
We actually like bats (along with wildlife in general) and have fitted nesting boxes on this property and our previous home, but they do seem to sometimes be used unreasonably by some planning officers to delay lodging let alone progressing an application.
With winter weather looming and a roofing contractor already booked, we took the decision to start stripping the roof under permitted development rights. Certain works don’t need planning permission, so we could at least start getting the roof watertight in some places just didn’t want to start constructing the new dormer at risk (without permission).
Eventually we received our second planning decision, giving us approval for the extension, milking parlour conversion and new roof dormer.
It was not an ideal time of year to be re-roofing a house, but we just managed to get the roof watertight 10 days before the first snow arrived!