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Couple win battle to build their dream home near Newport

Telford | News | Published:

A couple have won a long legal battle that will see them build their dream home on the Shropshire border.

Mark and Mandy Armitage's home in Sutton, near Newport, will, once built, be carbon neutral in under five years.

Having originally submitted plans to Stafford Borough Council in May 2015, Mark and Mandy initially received a rejection because isolated homes in open countryside are generally thought to be detrimental to the environment around them.

However, keen to see their vision realised and being aware of a niche aspect of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that can be applied in appeals against planning decisions, they engaged FBC Manby Bowdler to take up the case for them.

Niall Blackie, senior partner of FBC Manby Bowdler's Telford-based planning team, said: "Paragraph 55 is an exemption to the general rule of isolated country homes being rejected.

"It was included in the forerunner of NPPF almost 20 years ago as a means by which exceptional country homes could be built, so long as they were in the older tradition of country houses but in the new NPPF, the focus is on first-class and high quality design, coupled with demonstrable innovative credentials, which would help to raise all-round rural design standards.

"Since its introduction, fewer than 100 new country homes are thought to have been built as a result of utilising this concept. This demonstrates just how high the bar has been set and we are delighted to have been successful with this outcome."

The innovative green credentials of the house, lie in the fact that the total carbon used in all the materials that go into its construction, as well as the anticipated carbon output during its lifetime will be calculated using a complex computer modelling system.

The computer model ensures that optimum carbon efficiency is achieved, but depends on the highest quality design input. A calculated area of elephant grass is then to be planted to draw carbon from the atmosphere so as to achieve the zero-carbon approach.

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During the appeal process, the planning inspector heard submissions from Niall Blackie and evidence from a wide range of experts including Professor Lubo Jankovic of Birmingham City University, a world leader in zero carbon design and the developer of the computer model; Sandy Greenhill architect with Vivid Architects who had designed the exciting house; and from ecology and landscape design specialists to ensure that there was no harm to the area.

He concluded that the proposal to offset the total amount of construction and lifetime carbon was particularly unusual and commented that this home could be used to inform future zero carbon design more generally.

Mr Armitage said: "It has always been our dream to build a truly unique home which would not only make its mark architecturally, but which would also boast the very best in eco-friendly credentials. We were, therefore, disappointed with the initial decision.

"Not to be felled at the first fence, however, we decided to appeal the decision and believe our team who joined us in this appeal were pivotal to our success."

With plans for the home now approved, Mark and Mandy plan to complete the design and preparatory stages as soon as possible before starting work on site.

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