Charles Holland Architects
We have been recently been granted Planning Permission for a new ‘Paragraph 79’ house in Kent. The new dwelling is located close to a Grade 2* listed Manor House and within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The new house forms a mannerist inversion of its 17th century neighbour. The front elevation is informal and vernacular in character and is characterised by an exaggerated catslide roof of peg tiles that comes down almost to the ground. The rear, garden elevation is more vertical in aspect and formal in character. The inverted orientation allows the new house to avoid conflict with its neighbour while offering dramatic views from the interior across the Kent Downs towards the white cliffs.
The choice of materials follows the same design logic. The low-key front and side elevations are faced in a red-brown brick which then gives way to reveal white bricks on the formal rear elevation. Bullseye windows, super-scaled dormers and a triple-stack chimney refer to a history of domestic architecture in the area. The long, low expanse of earth-coloured roof and vertical face of chalk-white bricks also relates to the topographic character of the wider site.
The design has been carefully integrated into its hamlet setting through a detailed landscape design by Louise Hooper Landscape Architects. Like the house, the garden has been designed to graduate in character from informal spaces at the front to more formal areas at the rear. The house is approached via an informal lane that curves through an orchard before straightening out to set up an axial view across the site towards the Kent Downs. The garden progresses through a series of outdoor rooms containing a lime walk, lawn, winter garden, terraces and a kitchen and cutting garden. Garden equipment, bins and storage are contained within a small outhouse that is a diminutive copy of the larger house. The house itself is revealed slowly, set away at the end of a diagonal path that preserves views across the site and allows a sense of surprise and delight as it is discovered.
The sensitive location of the house outside existing settlement boundaries and within the curtilage of several designated heritage assets, was approved via Paragraph 79 – the so-called ‘country house clause’ included within the NPPF which allows for exceptional and innovative new architecture. The Planning Inspector’s report, which praised “the exceptional quality of the proposal”, went on to say:
“The design has clearly been the subject of a rigorous and scholarly process, and in itself is both outstanding and innovative. Due to its visibility, (it will be) capable of helping to raise the standard of design more generally in the area.”