So, after an eight-month battle with our local planning and conservation departments to win approval for our design, we started the build this week. It is a mixture of excitement, fear and uncertainty. Our double-fronted Victorian village house is having the existing 1980s single-storey kitchen extension removed and a new two-storey extension built in its place. This work will add almost 50 per cent additional floor space to the house and is phase one of a three-phase plan.
We’re very fortunate to be able to both completely move out of the house for the whole build, but also be on-site throughout, thanks to our sizable 1,200 sq ft cart lodge, which we converted into a fully functional house in anticipation of the build.
At this early stage, we are pushing the builders (who are being amazing already and we are so happy to have found them) to start the footing for the extension. When our initial application hit a wall with the conservation officer, I decided to appoint a planning consultant who, through a written Heritage statement, enabled our original design to be approved with only a very minor modification. This consultant has advised that once 1m2 of footing has been poured, we can claim to have officially started phase one. This enables us to apply for phases two and three without needing to amend the original application.
Phase two involves connecting the cart lodge that we are living in, to the main house via the extension. We anticipate this to be approved relatively easily since it isn’t visible from the “street scape” and the neighbours don’t overlook us. We will be submitting this application within the next two weeks, and we will be getting the foundations for this phase poured in phase one.
Phase three involves winning approval to replace all 24 original single-glazed, sash windows with acoustic laminate hardwood sashes. Also, an ugly fence at the side of the house will be replaced with a high brick wall. The house is in a Conversation Area, and is also Article 4 Direction marked, which means all permitted development rights are removed, so phase three might end up being the most tricky, which feels crazy.
James Merrington, marketing head for a publishing company in London, lives in Newport Village, close to Saffron Walden, in north Essex. His wife, Jennie, is sales director, and they have two children, Annabelle, who is almost five, and Margot, three.