Generally, planning policies and decisions made by local planning authorities should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside/greenbelt unless certain circumstances apply. In this case the scheme was designed to meet the paragraph 79’s (formerly known as paragraph 55) criterion of exceptional quality. Considered to represent a high standard of architecture, and has the ability to act as a model for others in the region.
For the design to be of exceptional quality it needs to be truly outstanding and innovative, helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas. It should reflect the highest standards in architecture and significantly enhance its immediate setting while also being sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.
The site located deep in the South Shropshire countryside not far from Bridgnorth has watercourses on three sides, a major determining factor in choosing the location for the proposed dwelling. The new two-bedroom home comprises of a series of linked volumes, which are based on traditional rural/vernacular forms. A trussed structure links the individual elements and becomes a bridge over the brook.
Landscape and ecological enhancement of the immediate and wider site is proposed. Offsite manufacturing and ‘light touch’ foundation solutions are proposed for the buildings, alongside sustainability measures based on the opportunities afforded by the site such as rainwater harvesting and in particular a water source heat pump that exploits the location.
The design review panel found the siting strategy to be ‘persuasive and convincing’. They were also convinced by the architectural strategy; the linked smaller parts and simple geometry were found very ‘attractive and appropriate’. The designs were also praised for ‘demonstrating that the house will be successfully integrated in to its setting’ and ‘will establish a positive and enjoyable relationship between outside and inside’.
Aside from the design being of outstanding architectural merit (paragraph 79) other opportunities to build within the greenbelt may apply.