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Case Studies - The Kennels, Sopley

Affordable housing contributions can knock applications on the head – but not always.

A creative solution from Foxley Tagg to a potentially costly problem.

The Kennels, Sopley.

At one of the HBR NEC Shows we were approached by a client who owned and farmed a smallholding, which historically formed part of a wider estate associated with a Manor House. On the smallholding stood a former Kennel building used to house hunting dogs which was in an isolated position away from the Manor House.

The current and only apparent use was as a store after an unsuccessful application for the conversion to a dwelling. The LPA outlined that conversion to a dwelling would be against policy and in addition, a contribution of £80k would be needed in relation to local affordable housing provision. Such a contribution would simply make the scheme unviable and as such an alternative approach was necessary.

It was established that, because the building was in a good state of repair, the Local Planning Authorities (LPA) polices would support the conversion of rural buildings but subject to the prioritisation of employment uses and without permission for any extension to the building.

After much thought and discussion Foxley Tagg introduced a new and alternative suggestion and the strategy turned towards the conversion of the building to holiday let accommodation with a small extension (previously outside LPA advice) to provide an office as part of the conversion to be used small holding business use.

Foxley Tagg prepared the planning application and designs on this basis with special attention to maintaining the traditional vernacular and the historic linear nature of the building and to minimise the impact on the local setting.

Given the small scale nature of the Kennel and key historic features such as beams, retaining walls and railings, Foxley Tagg took great care and attention was needed in designing the internal layout so as to maximise space and light.

The design solution involved creating an open plan kitchen/diner and living space which opened out to a seating area in what was formerly the kennel runs. A new bathroom was added with a separate bedroom area created; all with vaulted ceilings too so as create a light and airy feel.
In addition, a separate but attached office space was created in a linear formation, so that the extension is not obvious when viewing the building as finished. The office has been provided to support the small holding but also to assist with the operation of the holiday let i.e. storage given the constraints on internal space.

Much to everyone’s delight the LPA’s Conservation Team and the Planning Officer were happy that the proposals to retain the character and nature of the historic building, the extension was, although outside policy, modest and supported the employment function. The application was therefore permitted by Officers with the conversion now complete and ready and provides a bespoke and unusual holiday retreat.

The benefits of good planning go beyond the application, sympathy with the environment and creativity are hallmarks of the value that professional advice can bring.

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