Charlie and Kate started this project with one home split across two sites – and when it ends, that will still be the case. That they are not adding a new separate dwelling was a key factor in helping them gain planning approval – new homes in the open countryside being against the local planning policy – and it is also a positive in that it somewhat takes the pressure off in terms of the amount of space the new home needs to deliver.

The plan is to use the new build as the family home, complete with the bedrooms and living areas and kitchen and so on — while the cottage, their existing home, becomes the ancillary unit, home to the guest accommodation and office space that Charlie so badly needs. It’s one home split over two, but of course the split is far from even, with the new build being to all intents and purposes the new family home.

The New Home That’s Not New

In most cases, someone looking to build an extension (unlinked as it may be, in this case) would have to convince the planners that they were in no shape or form looking to create something that could in the future live and breathe its own identity. Its very functionality would have to be ancillary to the primary unit – in this case, the cottage. Yet Charlie and Kate have somehow managed to convince the planners to let them create an extension that to a large degree makes the new unit the primary element of the ‘home’.

In the planning statement accompanying the application, Charlie’s planning consultants Hunter Page referenced the original pre-application response to an initial (similar) scheme, which was broadly negative.

“It should be noted that the Pre-application response assessed the emerging proposal on the premise that it intended the formation of a ‘new residential dwelling’”.

Assessing the proposals on the premise of it resulting in a new dwelling, the written response contends the proposal “clearly conflicts” with saved policy H13 and that “the site is beyond the built up limits of Hook Norton and… is not in the village”.

It sets out that the proposal constitutes a new dwelling in the countryside. As such the response notes the proposal cannot constitute sustainable development and the presumption in favour of sustainable development would not apply. In response to the above, and for the avoidance of doubt, it should be noted that the application to which this statement accompanies does not seek to create a ‘new residential dwelling’.

How did the Project Gain Planning Approval?

So how did they convince the planners? Well, the planning consultants outline that the existing cottage is tiny, and due to its site constraints cannot be extended. Their planning submission even hints that without such a proposal the family might have to leave the village in spite of their long held family ties. It claims that the reduction of the cottage to a secondary unit “secures the optimum viable use of Beanacre Cottage which is commensurate with modern living.”

The planning consultants then reference the Unilateral Planning Obligation that ensures the unit is maintained as a single entity — i.e. it can’t ever be split into two separate dwellings.

To be very clear, Charlie’s project doesn’t result in a new dwelling – just a better one. And clarity is provided in the planning statement that went with Charlie’s application — we lost count of the number of times that it was made clear that this is not a new separate dwelling. A rather telling typical line is: “it should be stressed that this proposal does not seek the erection or formation of a new dwelling.”

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