Acting as lead designer for an SME Property Developer, and with WYG as planning consultant, Planning Permission was approved for five homes in Paxton, Cambridgeshire, “Brownfield Development” and then the site sold to another Developer, who is currently building out the houses, which are in high demand in this idyllic English village.
Is there anything better than achieving a hard won consent for a long standing client?
All developers hope to find that sweet brownfield site in a great location, and having acted as lead designer for a long standing client, we share in their triumph. The result, One Five Bed Detached House, Two Pairs of Four Bed Semi-Detached Homes and two profitable projects.
A rewarding result for all to be able to redevelop what was a disused brownfield development site in this great village location. Not only were we able to create four new homes on the existing street line but also negotiate with the planning authority to break the village settlement line and create an additional unit to the rear of the site, which pushed the scheme from four to five units.
Great Paxton is a popular village lying 2 miles north of St Neots, 4 miles to the south of Huntingdon and 20 miles from Cambridge. The site is a former used car sales premises located to the northern end of the High Street of Great Paxton and surrounded by other residential properties.
The village is mainly elevated above the Ouse Valley and there are spectacular views across the valley to the west. The village offers a range of facilities including the Bell public house, a community convenience shop and the Holy Trinity Church which dates back to Saxon times.
There is an appealing range of housing including many period cottages and country houses together with more modern homes. St Neots itself offers a wide range of social, leisure, community, business facilities and retail opportunities. It is an expanding town and is noted for its picturesque setting on the banks of the Great Ouse.
An initial feasibility study was submitted for pre-application advice to the local authority, Huntingdonshire, and the response back was that they were happy with the principle of development. Working with our client and the planning team at WYG, we then developed a full planning application for the scheme, where a lot of challenges arose. The building opposite was Listed, and so conservation officers and design officers were very cautious of the setting and impact of the new buildings opposite, additionally because it was previously a petrol station and car sales lot, there were concerns over contamination. Further surveys did raise contamination and arboricultural issues. Firstly that a sunken petrol tank was left on the site and that there were half a dozen fruit trees that the council’s ecologist had decided were an orchard, so the work began.
The main challenge faced on this scheme was agreeing the scale of development with the planning officers. With the number of minor residential planning applications granted, 70%, falling each year, (Planning applications in England: October to December 2020, gov.uk), to achieve a grant in one application was brilliant but it did take 15 months to complete. Around two thirds of meetings were with the design and conservation committee/team to get it right. Around 2 or 3 sets of revisions were put together through discussion with the design officer to agree the scheme for the site, but they continued to change their mind. It reached a point where this process was no longer commercially viable and so we asked the local authority to decide on the scheme as it was rather than revise the scheme again and we were pleased that it was finalised and determined by the planning committee with a positive outcome.
Former Director, Chris George, pulled on his experience and expertise to suggest that a barn style conversion property to the rear, would be in keeping with the surrounding buildings and so revised drawings were submitted to the council pushing the scheme of four units up to five. Even though we were told initially that this wasn’t possible, through skillful negotiation and high quality design, the scheme achieved consent for five houses.
Through our introduction to another client, who was keenly looking for such a scheme, the site was sold, with the benefit of the consent, a great result for all parties and proof that the strength of the relationships we value and of the benefit of our network of clients. We are busy assisting with the discharge of planning conditions, building regulations application, and technical design whilst they mobilise to build.
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