My pre-planning application was submitted April 2014. This is not an essential part of the planning process however we decided it would be valuable and help smooth and ease the design process. The results certainly suggested it was a well worthwhile exercise.
I have spent some time visiting the plot and introducing myself to neighbours. It has been good to start to get to know my future neighbours but also very helpful for the design process. Their local knowledge has been massively helpful to the design process. I discussed plans, ideas and thoughts with them at all stages as I have no desire to design or build a house that is not acceptable to them — they will be my neighbours after all!
The pre-planning outcome was overall very positive and highlighted a couple of areas we would need to tweak for the planning process. The east barn-room extension was a little long and they were concerned of the impact to my neighbour. They also mentioned the original building for which planning had been passed had a 1.5 storey aspect to the north but were pleased the new design was pushed back on the plot as this minimised the impact on the street scene. The barn style architecture was considered appropriate and they noted our efforts to minimise any overlooking to the neighbour to the west. They suggested that as the plot had been dormant for sometime now an Ecological Survey was recommended to ensure the land had not become colonised by any rare or endangered species for which mitigation measures would be required. An arboricultural method statement and tree survey would also be required for planning but they were happy to accept the one that had been recently completed for the previous planning application that the previous vendor had sold onto myself with the land.
I did not really have much of an idea what an ecological survey was but after some emails and phone calls to local ecologists I soon understood what was required. I commissioned Hampshire Ecological Surveys Ltd to carry out the survey for me and they were fast efficient and a pleasure to deal with. They have also kindly written an article that can be found on my website. It simply explains ecological surveys and is worth a read if you are considering self build. The survey did not find any rare, protected or endangered species on my plot but did provide a fascinating overview of nearby habitats and wildlife on the south coast. I had no idea of the great importance of the habitats on my doorstep. For example up to 10% of the world population of dark-bellied geese over winter in one harbour in the area! My survey suggested some bird boxes around the site and to consider something for the humble forgotten and declining house martin as well as possibly some bat boxes on the gables.
The next stage was to consider the comments and advice to tweak the design. Also the sketches were to be brought to life in an accurate CAD drawing. Soon we would be ready submit my full planning application. Things were moving along and the house was coming to life.
I recently submitted my planning application so it is all systems go. Above you can see the CAD drawings of the proposed North and South elevations. Do have a look on my website I will post up some of the other elevations there.