the first Certified Passivhaus in England, by Seymour-Smith Architects

the AI PassivHaus

the planning process

We are particularly proud of the planning permission for this house, which was only the 10th ever in the whole country to be granted under paragraph 11 of PPS7:

Isolated new houses in the countryside will require special justification for planning permission to be granted… Very occasionally the exceptional quality and innovative nature of the design of a proposed, isolated new house may provide this special justification for granting planning permission. Such a design should be truly outstanding and ground-breaking, for example, in its use of materials, methods of construction or its contribution to protecting and enhancing the environment, so helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas. The value of such a building will be found in its reflection of the highest standards in contemporary architecture, the significant enhancement of its immediate setting and its sensitivity to the defining characteristics of the local area.

Despite a housing moratorium in the district of Stratford-on-Avon, we were very encouraged by the forward-thinking attitude of the councillors, who were impressed by the project's eco credentials and its minimal impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty landscape. At the Area Planning Committee meeting, the project was supported by 11 votes to nil with 1 abstention.

Because of the project contravening the housing moratorium, it was also presented to a special meeting of Stratford’s Planning and Regulation Committee two months later. By 8 to 1, they voted in our favour. It was incredibly refreshing to see that innovation isn’t always stifled, and that Stratford-on-Avon District Council were proud to be supporting only the 10th ever PPS7 house.

However, because this was going to be development in contravention of local policies, Stratford District Council didn’t have the final say. The application was then sent to the Government Office for the West Midlands, who had 21 days to decide if the Secretary of State would “call in” our application. We were mightily relieved to hear on the 14th November 2007 (6 months after our original submission) that the Secretary of State did not wish to call in our application, and that Stratford on Avon District Council could therefore approve it. Large amounts of Champagne were consumed that week! Followed by the serious challenge of figuring out how to build a new house underneath a crumbly 300 year old barn...