I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to you that I am fascinated by all things architecture. In fact, I am a self proclaimed “architecture geek”; and proud.
And with Kevin McCloud back on our screens with “Kevin’s Grandest Designs”, I can’t help but ponder over the intricacies of these ingenious rural builds, and the steps that have been taken to make them a reality.
We’ve all got our dream spot in mind for that perfect home. The fantasy.
For many people, that spot will always remain exactly that; a fantasy. Due in no small part to the difficulty of getting planning permission granted on paragraph 79 homes.
What is paragraph 79?
Paragraph 79 refers to a section of the National Planning Policy Framework which relates to new isolated builds in the open countryside. AKA, that serene location in the middle of nowhere. Better known as, the dream.
These homes are notoriously hard to get planning permission for. To start off with, you’ve got to tick one of these four boxes:
- Be an agricultural worker’s dwelling (pretty rare)
- Provide the re-use of a heritage asset, such as giving new life to a listed building
- Provide the re-use of farm buildings
- Be a dwelling of exceptional quality or innovative in its nature of design
No points for guessing which box our friend Kevin’s Grandest Designs fall under.
Yet, homes of incredible quality design are still struggling to get approval.
There are disparities in the way local authorities unwrap the policy. After all, what does exceptional really mean? How exceptional IS exceptional?
The good news is… I’ve rounded up my top tips to secure the holy grail of planning permission.
It turns out there are some ways to improve your chances of success. To start off with, a deeper look into the nature of “exceptional quality or innovative in its nature of design” suggests paragraph 79 builds should:
- Help to raise the standards of design overall in rural areas
- Be of the highest architectural standard
- Significantly enhance the immediate setting and slot in seamlessly to it
- Be sensitive to – and embrace – the defining characteristics of the local area
So far, so good. But there’s more.
There are two further key success factors, according to those that have passed paragraph 79.
One is totally embodying yourself in the site. The other is letting go of control.
What can your build do to support the specific nature of its site?
This should come first and foremost. If you’re looking to build a paragraph 79 home, you need to carefully select the site and design your build around that. Consider how you will develop it through sustainable features. Whether you can capitalise on its defining features (such as wind on an exposed site).
Give yourself the best chance of success by doing things the right way round.
You must be prepared to compromise.
Loosening your grip on your passion project is hard. Really, really hard.
But when you’re trying to build your once in a lifetime home in your “out of a storybook” location, you need to open up and let the rest of the world in.
Facts are facts: you will need to be flexible. You will not get everything you want. And you have to accept that.
Take a deep breath and trust the experts.
Now you know the ins and outs… are you ready to dive right in?
It’s by no means an easy path to take. But – get it right – and you can achieve everything you’ve ever dreamt of and more. And that’s seriously exciting, isn’t it?