Wednesday, 3 August 2011

21st Century Eco Cottage


The proposed new dwelling will be single storey with attics.  The cottage will have lime rendered walls, a clay plain tiled roof, a green roof on the garage and shiplap timber on the “dormer elevations”.  Just the end part of the existing conservatory on 160A will be demolished. It is our aim to move into the cottage releasing our current house for family occupation.

Objections: After listening to the objections to our previous application raised by neighbours in 160, 158 and 156 High Street and by Riseley Parish Council and after lengthy consultations with Bedford Borough Council Planning Department, we have submitted a revised design.

Overlooking: To overcome the objections of possible overlooking towards 160 158 and 156 we have developed a design that has no first floor windows at all, looking south or west. We have removed the spare bedroom windows in the gable end facing the High St. The gable end will be rendered. There are now no windows, at first floor level, which look towards 160, 158 or 156.

Additional roof lights have been introduced, but as with the original design, these roof lights are 2m above floor level and provide no opportunity for overlooking.  The ground floor windows that face south will be below the existing 2m high boundary fence and will present no opportunity for overlooking.  There can now be no objections based on overlooking towards 158 and 156 or 160

Elevated position:  Much was made in the objections of the proposed new dwelling being on an elevated position.  This was not the case and will not be the case for the revised design.  The site will be excavated to the same level at the existing house 160A, which was built on an excavated site in 1983.The ridge line of the roof of the proposed cottage sits 1m below the ridge line of the existing house 160A and at roughly the same level as the roof ridge line of 156 and 158.

Zinc roof:  The Parish Council did not like the zinc roof on the original design (Sheet zinc is not in keeping with the village) so the revised design has a more traditional clay plain tile roof.  We are seeking approval for an array of PV solar panels on the south facing roof.

Photo Voltaic Panels:  We plan to fit semi integrated PV panels to the roof such that the surface of the PV panel comes flush with the surface of the tiles.  Semi integrated PV panels are placed within a framework tray that sits directly on the roof joists and the roof tiles are then butted up to these to form a water proof seal. This is a more expensive method of PV installation but the PV panels are flush with the roof surface giving a more pleasing appearance. We have also designed a layout which concentrates the PV panels to the eastern end of the roof,-away from the High St. This leaves the western end of the roof, the end nearest to the neighbours, dominated by tiles. The PV panels will not be visible from the High Street.

Size of the plot
The Parish Council also commented about the size of the plot (cramped plot / a bit squashed in / very cramped).  The plot is 12.4m wide (40ft) and by way of comparison this is roughly the same width as the plot 160 High Street sits on and is in fact the same as the average plot width for a new build house in the UK  An inspection of the site will show that it is well able to accommodate the proposed dwelling and Bedford Borough Council are content that the site can accommodate a dwelling of the size and scale we propose.

The distance between our proposed eco cottage and:
  • No 160 will be 115ft (35m),
  • No 158 will be 92ft (28m)
  • No 156 will be 112ft (34m)
By way of comparison these distances are roughly the same as the distance between the corner of our existing house and the nearest point of 160, 158 and 156

Conservation Area: The Bedford Borough Council Conservation Officer Mr Jonathan Duck is of the opinion that the proposed cottage fits with the style of development which has taken place at the Northern end of the village over the years.  He states “In regard to the document ‘Riseley and its Conservation Area’ published in 1975, I agree that there is mention made of the zone being generally unsuitable for development, except in the interests of agriculture.  I also note, however, that there has been a significant level of development in the area to the east of High Street and within Zone 6, within close proximity of both nos 160A and the listed buildings adjacent to the road.  A figure ground drawing of the existing situation shows various buildings of a similar scale to no 160A in very close proximity to the adjacent dwellings.  Their relationship one to the other could at best be considered perpendicular to the road, but it is certainly notable that the relationship is also quite varied both to the roadside and the older buildings.  As such, I do not consider the introduction of a new dwelling adjacent to no 160A out of character, simply in terms of its location.  In terms of scale, the figure ground shows several quite large units in similarly close proximity to other structures in the area, which I consider set a precedent in Zone 6.” 
It is worth noting that in “Riseley and its Conservation Area 1975”, Numbers 160,158 and 156 High Street are shown as a terrace of 3 listed cottages.  156 was subsequently demolished and 158 and 160 were fused to make one dwelling.  156 and 158 were then built in the former cottage garden.
The garage attached to the proposed eco cottage is single storey with a flat green roof and will not be as high as the existing shed with its plastic sheet roof which it will replace.  The new garage wall will replace the existing boundary wooden fence.

Planting and landscaping
With regard to planting and landscaping, moving the house 3.5m deeper into the site could make it possible to retain the weeping birch tree at the top of the existing drive together with the existing hawthorn tree between the proposed site and the corner of the boundary with 160.  This will make it virtually impossible to see the new dwelling from Riseley High St.  It will sit lower than the paddock level in 158 and a retaining wall will be built to maintain a strip of land inside our boundary at the same ground level as in the paddock of 158.  This strip will carry the existing close boarded fence and provide an opportunity for planting a new hedge and other trees to enhance the view above the sheds in the paddock garden of 158.

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